"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself."
Life is but a fleeting moment, a vapor.
When you pause long enough to think upon such things, the reality settles a bit deeper and becomes more "real."
For most of us, I don't think that it settles deep within our souls until we are "older" and/0r we start losing loved ones more often. At least for me, it has worked that way. I know that I am not alone in this. It is one of those things that I believe that all of us as humans know. It is head knowledge, but don't grasp until we mature in our walk, as we age. Even when we do "grasp" it, we can and never will fully grasp how fleeting life really is.
You may find yourself asking what has brought upon this reflection? You see, I, along with many of my friends and even our community lost a dear, precious friend unexpectedly a few days ago. Her passing rocked our worlds with shock and disbelief. I could not believe the call I received asking if it were true. I said, “It can’t be, I just saw her."
I hung up on the person without saying goodbye and called our friend's home. It was heartbreaking to hear the news. Such a sudden loss that no one was expecting. I remember grieving deeply for her loss, and in the exact moment, my soul was trying to rejoice, knowing she was complete now. She was praising Jesus and dancing within His presence now. She was IN the presence of the Lord, whom she faithfully served. I pictured her running into her Savior's arms, her first love, and hearing God say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." What a beautiful picture that is.
"...a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."
I would love to take a moment of your time to tell you about her.
Her name was Betsy. Her first love was God, serving Him to her fullest potential. Her love and passion for Jesus and His Word spilled over in all she did. She lived a full life. A devoted wife to Bill, mother of 3, grandma to a handful, a friend and mentor to many. She loved the outdoors and lived in the moment. She was a beautiful example of the Titus 2 woman.
"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live,
not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,
to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."
She was a spiritual "mom" to many. She reached beyond our community to spread the hope and love of Jesus Christ, stretching all across the world. She was a kingdom builder, a lover of Jesus, loving others well. Her heart was discipleship, sharing not only the Word with others, but her life experiences. She had a pure innocence about her that inspired you. She was a lover of God's Word. Her diligence and the time she put into knowing Him intimately overflowed to those she impacted and spent time with. You have heard the term "world changer," well, I would go further than that and say she was a generational changer (I may have just made that term/word up), meaning the influence and spiritual impact she has made in the lives she touched has and will affect many generations.
Betsy was a prayer warrior, a loyal friend. She was humble, gentle and kind. She had a teachable spirit, even with all of the head and heart knowledge she had. It always amazed me how, even though she was much older and more mature in her walk than I was, she still had the heart to learn from others. She led by example. She was sensitive to the Spirit, following His lead. She heard His small still voice in her everyday moments. She had the gift of discernment, among other gifts. She lived a life surrendered to Him. She walked in obedience to the callings He placed on her life faithfully. She LIVED what she was teaching and speaking into so many hearts. Her faith was authentic.
She had the gift of speaking truth in love, sharing the Truth in uplifting, encouraging ways. Her words were full of wisdom, truth, grace, and love with mercy sprinkled in there. God instilled a passion for women in her heart to help them grow and mature in their walk of faith. She inspired, mentored, encouraged, and prayed for many. She led countless bible studies over the years. She loved to talk about the end times, anything that revolved around the Word. She lived on mission for the sole purpose of glorifying and honoring the Lord.
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Betsy was a very dear friend of mine for 20+ years. I remember the first time we met, and there was just something about her that drew me to her. It was Jesus, of course. I felt the Lord was nudging me to ask her to mentor me. I remember asking her if she would pray about it. Little did I know then, at the young age of 24, how the Lord would use her to help mold me, take me into the Scripture deeper, and walk alongside me all of these years. Little did I know then the precious gift God was giving me, of how dear of a friend I would be gaining on that day. Little did I know then that our mentoring relationship would quickly blossom and develop into one of the sweetest long-lasting friendships I have encountered. She had the joy of the Lord deep within her soul, and it was on display for all to see.
"Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy,
for good friends are like the anointing oil
that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence."
Over the years, we have laughed, cried, prayed, poured over scripture, and worked together in ministry. We often had deep conversations, with her wisdom and knowledge interwoven in the middle of our words being etched into my heart. We have gone to church with her and Bill (her husband) for a lot of the time we have known each other, with a few years at different churches. But, over the years, God always made a way for us to be worshipping Him on Sunday mornings and doing church together again. I always loved that. I loved spending time with her, laughing with her about life, yet still circling back to talk about all of life's happenings, always centered around the Lord and His Word. When we would meet up, it was always to catch up, talk about what we were studying in scripture, and share how God was working within our lives, personally and within the different ministries He was using us in.
I loved doing ministry with Betsy. She was one of my favorites to work alongside. What an honor and privilege it was to have her in my life for so many years. I will think fondly of the times we have had. One of the most precious moments I had with her was the honor of speaking together at a women's event. It was for Mother's Day, and we were both asked to speak at this event. I remember being so humbled and honored to have done that with her! I even have a picture of that particular evening. I will forever treasure it in my heart!
As I stepped into the calling God was placing on my heart for women's ministry ten years ago, she was one of the first I shared what God was showing me and laying on my heart. She spoke so much into my life then and continued over the years. She became one of my biggest cheerleaders, spurring me on over the years. We loved talking about the excitement of seeing God move and watching things unfold in our lives that only God could orchestrate. We always left our conversations standing in awe of God's ways.
I have to be honest in saying that we spoke about a few things recently on several different occasions regarding women's ministry that was building excitement in both of our hearts. But, as they come to fruition this next year, it will be hard knowing that there will be an empty seat there. She will not be there to watch them unfold. She will not be there to experience them, mainly if I can be selfish for a moment, with me. I was looking forward to working in ministry with her again.
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,
not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but
encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
It is not just me. There is an extensive group of women, people, and a community grieving just as I am for the same reasons. God reminded me this morning that with each person she touched, she has left a part of her legacy with them, and you know what that legacy is? The love and knowledge of knowing Jesus Christ more intimately. There are not too many people like Betsy who leave such strong imprints on our hearts. The sweet aroma of Jesus spilled over in Betsy's life.
As I wrote those last two sentences above they caught my heart. When people look at us, as Christians, they gain a general knowledge and understanding of who Christ is. As Christians, we are the aroma of Christ, am I wholeheartedly living that out? Are you?
This past week, I have spent time in prayer and reflecting on life. The Lord is stirring a more profound, deeper passion within my heart to continue walking alongside others, pointing them to Jesus, loving them well. A passion to continue doing life with women, encouraging, and inspiring them to be more like Jesus, to walk in a deeper relationship with Him. My heart's desire is to live, breathe and walk with Jesus and help women do the same.
Nothing in this life is worth more than where you will spend eternity. It doesn't matter what you are living for. What matters the most is WHO you are living for.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son."
Betsy would want you to know that Jesus loves you immensely and unconditionally. She would want you to know that He came from heaven to earth to show the way. He paid a ransom for you. Your debt was paid. (your sins) But, Jesus did not stop there. He went to the grave and rose on the third day. He is alive, friend!
He died and rose from the grave so that you, my sweet friend, may have eternal life.
If you are reading this and have not surrendered and given your life to Jesus, don't let it slip away. If you are feeling nudged to do so, ask him into your heart today, in this moment. You don't have to have it all together. Just come as you are, that is all. The Holy Spirit will take care of the rest as you grow and mature in your faith.
If you are feeling nudged by the Holy Spirit, below is a prayer for you to invite Jesus into your heart.
If you just asked Jesus into your heart, I am rejoicing with you!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
AND the angels are rejoicing!
"I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of
God over ONE sinner who repents."
I am still processing Betsy leaving her earthly home so suddenly, leaving behind her loved ones. I will miss Betsy deeply. I will miss bumping into her at the coffee shop multiple times during the week. I will miss talking with her. It is bittersweet, but I along with many others, cling on to the hope of Jesus Christ. I am comforted in knowing that I will be reunited with her one day. I look forward to it! For now, she is home. She finished her race well and now is complete and whole, worshiping the Lord face to face. Oh, what an image that is! I am forever grateful for her friendship and the spiritual influence she had, both in my life and the many others.
May we all be spurred on to chase after Jesus, even more than we already are. May we all be the sweet aroma of Jesus Christ to those that God puts in our path. My prayer this past week has been that the Lord would stir people's hearts to know Jesus more deeply, maybe even for the first time, through Betsy's testimony and love for Jesus Christ.
If you are reading this and grieving a lost one, I am deeply sorry. May you find comfort in the presence of the Lord and...
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Romans 15:13
Cling to Jesus, sweet friend & let your light shine brighter for the world to see!
In His love,