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“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones” – Psalm 116:15

It’s interesting how we lament the early departure of those who die young, even when they are God’s people and have only departed this world, and in the truest sense, are flying Home to enjoy their everlasting Life!  In the truest sense, their Life has just begun!

I’ve attended the funerals of saints who died “prematurely”, and have often been struck by how their life felt more like an exclamation mark than a period.  More people show up at your funeral and are impacted by your example when you don’t.outlive all your friends  Sometimes I wonder if that’s part of why God brings some people home sooner than others… because He wants more people at their funeral, hearing about the legacy they are leaving in their shadow.  They lived their one, condensed life so well, and it will have a more lasting impact on others if it they died “too young”.

Today, we celebrated the life of one of those saints.  She was a dear and precious friend who suffered long and well with a bout of cancer that lasted three arduous years.  I never recall hearing her complain.  One of the things I hope to always remember is how well she suffered.  I only wish I handled the minor inconveniences in my life as well as she handled her immense suffering.  Somehow she had the capacity to keep smiling and laughing, even as her body devoured itself.  I’d visit in hopes of encouraging her, and leave feeling like I gained more encouragement than I’d given.

I sat in the lobby of the church where her funeral was held, watching and praying over her kids.  I watched Loru greet everyone she saw with a genuine gratitude for their company.  I hugged Elijah and heard him ask me (and others) how they were doing, at a time when everyone was there to check on him and his siblings, and it would have been completely natural for all his focus to be on how he was doing, and not everyone else around him.  I witnessed tranquility on their faces.  I watched her offspring exhibit the hope and peace and humility that their mama exemplified for them their whole life (or at least for as long as I’ve known her).  And I thought of how remarkable she had been for her kids to exhibit so many aspects of her character, and whenever I pointed it out, they immediately acknowledged they had learned it from their mom.  She may have died young, but her life has been multiplied in the six cherished children left in her wake.

At her funeral, I keep hearing it reiterated how she really saw people.  I kept musing over this.  It seemed like she only saw our best qualities.  I would visit Beth and when I left, I would think to myself “She is the best cheerleader in the universe, but I am nowhere near as amazing as she thinks I am.”  I was afraid if I spent too much time at her house, I would get really proud.  Her kids seemed to have the same uncanny ability to see only what was beautiful and pure, and then somehow put a magnifying glass on it.  Like all they could see were my absolute best qualities and somehow those were blown way out of proportion.  I used to think it was just because she couldn’t see the inside of my heart, or didn’t know me as well as I knew myself.  But today I realized she saw others like God sees us.  She saw purified saints whose souls have the hues of the cross painted over their imperfections.  She couldn’t see anything ugly in me because God has already dismissed it, and she had learned to look through His lens.

As I write this, I feel as though I am trying painting a sunset in greyscale.  Like a flourish of the most poetic words wouldn’t do justice to such a vibrant saint.  I feel as though I could rewrite this again and again, and it would probably still fall flat, and I’d run the risk of rambling in an attempt to tell you all the most beautiful things about my friend.  Then, I would likely still have more to say until I bored you to an early grave.  But what I will say is this: I’m grateful her life has an exclamation mark!  Not that I wanted her to die young (though I am grateful for the mercy it is to her), but I don’t want her legacy to get buried by a slow taper.  I want people to remember her.  The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11:1, told God’s people to imitate him as he imitated Christ.  I’m not sure I could be so bold to say that about myself.  I’d rather others exceed me in holiness and Christ-imitating.  But I will point you to Beth Yazdani, who was an exceptional example to follow, of one who suffered well, with abundant joy and rich humility, and who is now dancing before the throne of God as her everlasting Life begins!  I’m so happy for her, and so grateful for all she left in her wake!  May we imitate her as she has done such an exceptional job of imitating Christ Who bore the greatest of suffering with the greatest joy and humility ever found in human form!  Amen.

Space 12/30/23



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