alter the course

i need to start making a list, a list of people. there is certainly precedent in my life for these people lists. the list of those who love me is long. i say that humbly, but i am certain of it, and i am incredibly grateful for each person on it. and then there is the list of those who have inspired me, or tweaked my senses and understanding, or challenged me in some significant way. that list is certainly of great importance, and i am specifically grateful for the people on that list as well. the people on both those lists have all contributed in their own unique way in shaping who i am today. but there is a new list on my mind today. a measurably smaller list. and it’s a list i must start before the next tomorrow begins.  i plan to title this list, “people who God has used to alter the course of my life”.

this list has the deepest possible significance. and it is my desire to personally share with each person on that list, the way that God has used them. it will take some time, and i pray that i don’t lose heart or focus before the task is finished. “finished” … i guess it will won’t be finished until God chooses to take me home. i am going to begin this list in “public”, in contrast to the continuing efforts which will be more private. and i am going to begin with the story of two incredible women who have inspired the creation of my new list.

this story is one of a mother and daughter.  a maternal twosome whom i have never met personally, but who have moved me in a way that is more than profound.  two brilliant examples of the creation that was authored when God took from adam and created the first woman.  aimee powell was a very close friend of my cousin christy.  she and christy had been roommates until very recently, and taught at the same Christian school in north carolina.  kristyn met aimee when she visited christy a year or so ago, and all descriptions spoke of her highly.  “a beautiful spirit”, and “always had a smile on her face”, were phrases that i heard from kristyn.  i am sure christy would agree, and then some.  i have come to hear over the past week of the incredible example she was of the Savior that she loved more than anything, and who she served so cheefully and completely.  i use the past tense of love and serve, because God called her home last thursday when she was involved in a tragic car accident.  a beautiful life, that was by our standards, gone too soon from those that loved her here on earth.

in the hours and days after her passing, i was moved by the consistent mention of her godly character.  and also by the multiple outlets where God’s name was clearly proclaimed in either the discussion, or reporting of her death.  although my natural concern and attention was focused on christy, and how her treasured friend’s death was affecting her, i began to be overwhelmed with the attention aimee was bringing to the name of her Savior in losing her life.  i began to meditate on the words of paul in philippians 1:21 … For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  and i would soon find out how deeply aimee believed that.

a couple of days ago kristyn shared something from a conversation she had with christy.  in being sensitive with second-hand information, apparently aimee had been struggling a bit lately, and had recently shared with her mom, that the only thing that would really fix it would be if God called her home … ok, i need you to take a minute to let that sink in …

not for anything resembling a sensational reason, or to emphasize any element of destiny or plan.  but for what i heard clearly in that amazingly genuine heart cry.  this is a young woman who believed so strongly and sincerely … so resolutely, that being with her Savior was the only thing in her mind that would be enough.  this was not a wish to die, or the sorrow of a depressed young woman.   this was a true and pure example of a godly soul who believed deeply that losing her life meant gaining it all.  i love the way the message Bible finishes that philippians verse … Life versus even more life! I can’t lose. i think aimee would say, “amen!”

i am looking forward with great anticipation, for the person who shows me with their life, a more vivid example of belief in Jesus Christ.  because that bar has been set astronomically high.

and at the same time i say that, along comes a mother whose strength and belief must have been obvious models to her beautiful daughter.  yesterday was aimee’s viewing.  kristyn spoke briefly with christy to see how she was doing, and offer her love and support.  i sat on the couch, and played fly on the wall to their conversation.  when kristyn finished, she shared some of the other half of the conversation that i couldn’t hear.  christy had shared that aimee’s mom and dad were cried out, but they were at the same time, showing great strength.  and that they were very focused on caring for, and talking to her students, and doing whatever they could to help them through the loss of their teacher.  and then christy shared something that aimee’s mom had said, that pierced my heart.  she seemed determined to keep everyone focused, not on the young man who came across the center line and struck her daughter’s car, but on the God who is always in control.  the Lord giveth and He taketh away, were her words.  and the truth that was real to her, was that the young man driving the other vehicle did not kill her daughter … God took her.  once again, sit a minute and absorb the incredible weight of a mother’s words …  bitterness, blame, hatred and vengeance are completely absent.  submission, reliance, forgiveness and a deep abiding faith fill to overflowing.

aimee’s mom and dad are missionaries to taiwan.  they were half-way around the world when they received the news of their daughter’s accident, and hadn’t even had the time to leave taiwan, before she passed away.  it is admittedly a parent’s worst case scenario, for a child to die before they do.  and it’s not even on the radar when a daughter is so young.  but only a few short days removed from having to confront the tragic reality, i saw the picture of a mother that is comforting others, and has the courage and strength to speak pure truth, as painful as it may be to take it all in.  i can’t imagine the shock and grief their family has had to confront and endure.  and it is certainly not over.

but in the midst of what, by human standards, is a complete and senseless tragedy, two brilliant examples of godliness are on full display.  the bright glow, not spotlighting it’s own self, but radiating in the direction of God and his Son, Jesus Christ.

aimee’s death, and death in the life of any believer, is perhaps the ultimate two-sided coin.  perched high enough above us that we can only see one side.  reflecting back at us is the beauty of a treasured human life, and the grief and pain of separation and loss.  but what our fallenness blocks from our view is the brilliant “other side” of that coin.  the shower of bright light emitting from a child of God inheriting the perfection that was a part of original creation.  and the indescribable joy and celebration of a soul reuniting with its Creator.  a final and complete exhale, and the radiating warmth of our Savior’s embrace.

i am already feeling the nudge from the coordinates that my life inhabited last thursday morning.  and my list is officially started.  i praise God for the example of two women that i don’t really even know.  and i pray with all that i am, for immediate comfort and continued healing for aimee’s mom, dad, siblings, students, friends, extended and church families in the days to come.

philippians 1:21 … For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.


One response to “alter the course

  1. for me the tears continue to flow as I remember and miss Aimee. my broken heart will mend, although I’m not sure when. life is tough at times. please don’t take your relationships with those you know or come in contact with lightly.

    Love Uncle Tom

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