Words from Kara

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

(Philippians 1: 21 ESV)

Today, I begin to mend my heavy heart that is currently grieving for a friend I did not quite know for I learned late yesterday evening; Kara Tippetts lost her battle with cancer and awoke from this world finding herself surrounded by the loving embrace of her Savior.  Kara taught us all how to live with Christ and equally important how to die with Christ.  Her broken yet intensely beautiful transparency touched thousands of kindred spirits and through this intensely beautiful transparency, she accomplished what He asks each one of us to do…..She glorified God.

Just a few of my favorite excerpts from Kara’s book:

The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard

The second summer I still wore my Beastie Boys shirt and worn Pumas, but that summer I found comfort in my differences.  I appreciated the women who had grown up in faith and didn’t face the struggles I had endured.  Coming back, I realized I had something to share with them.  I could share the heart of the brokenhearted and challenge those women to return to their campuses and share the love they knew with someone who looked like me.  I was no longer intimidated by the differences, because I know I was uniquely made.  My story mattered.  I had grown in freedom and grace, and I returned not embarrassed that I wasn’t a spiritual giant.                                                     p. 42

I did not feel up for another battle with cancer.  Jesus knew the prayer of my heart was something like a Jabez prayer, that I would not have any more cancer, that the pain would go away.  But, that’s not what He’s promised.  It is His presence that is sure, so I trust Him.  I have trusted Him.            p. 74

What God has patiently taught me over the years is the difference between pretty and beautiful.  Pretty is what was valued in my childhood home, something that involves primping and painting and covering over so as to be acceptable in society’s eyes.  Beautiful, on the other hand, is the revelation of what is truly and naturally there, often through suffering.                  p. 85

There are beautiful stories of courageous humility as they receive suffering and seek grace in the midst of it.  There are also stories of those who are being brought low through suffering to show them their beautiful neediness for grace, those heartfelt inquiries from readers who desperately want to know peace.         p. 116

 “Dear heart, the purpose of life is not longevity.”  That’s what a friend said to me recently.  The words slowly seeped into my soul.  I digested them gradually.  I hate them, and I love them.  I remember the Westminster Confession that asks one simple question:  What is the chief end of man?  The answer, the beautiful answer every heart needs to hear: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  That forever is this side of heaven and the next.  Longevity is not the answer, but it is my soft heart’s desire.  But to give glory forever—yes, yes.  That is my longevity in this place and in the next.  It is easy to say those words when things are bright, but when future days feel like they are dimming, it’s hard.  It’s just so hard.                                                                                   p 151

The veil between here and heaven is very thin.  But it’s a dreadfully painful one.  We struggle to see beyond these days and look upon eternity with gladness.  God gives us morsels of eternity over here, crumbs really, and we beg for them to remain when there is a feast awaiting us.  We beg for scraps when the very best is promised.  I look at the beautiful creations of my loved ones and say, “Jesus, You did so well—so wondrously well—can’t I stay a minute longer?”                 p 153

Christ lavished you with His presence in this world, for it is so apparent in your sincere and honest testimony. Likewise, your abiding comfort in His grace and mercy allowed you to openly share with the rest of us your brokenness in His guiding light.   Our world has dimmed a shade darker at the loss of your transparency and beauty…….. it’s hard.  It’s just so hard… but our loss is your gain…

You were and are a spiritual giant Kara; now eternally enjoy your feast! 

 

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Song of a Sparrow

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“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

(Isaiah 51:11 ESV)

I awoke this morning to yet another overcast day after a long night of restless and interrupted sleep.  Just past dawn, I found myself fortunate enough to hear the song of a sparrow which was perched just outside my window and as I sat there listening to his melody, I began to wrestle with darkening thoughts as I sensed utter emptiness deep inside for I have become so discouraged by the hatred and evil which exists in humanity.  I long for the safe and loving embrace and familiar company of my lost loved one and soon my uncontained grief begins to trickle and overflow.  There is so much I could say to you for so much has changed since we last spoke but I know without doubt you would not want to find me still grieving after almost a decade has come to pass, so I prevent your memory from further entering my presently sorrowful conscience for just this brief moment.

I ask myself how humanity can be so cruel and unkind.  The hatred we all have for one another and the total disregard for human life which should always be protected and tenderly held so sacred by all.  I painfully recall the slaughtered bloodshed which was washed away upon the shores of the sea by those who only seek to mutilate and destroy and I wonder if this may only be the beginning. My heart aches with agony knowing that evil and suffering, sickness and death, and this hatred for one other exists only because of the past and continued rebellion of mankind against his One and only Creator.  I only have myself to blame, for this was not God’s original design for us.

 We must never take our eyes off of the One who prophesied these types of events yet to come, the only One who came to reconcile our rebellion.  “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars.  See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.” (Mat 24:6 ESV) …”And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” (Mat 24:12 ESV)

I find myself thankfully distracted briefly from my brutal thoughts as I notice my singing sparrow, just outside the corner of my eye, as he flies off to find another more comfortable destination and with his quick and sudden departure he also takes with him his song.  Sitting there awhile in complete silence and solitude, I finally whisper my Savior’s name, the only One I find always beside me and resting there too just past dawn, and in an instant; my utter emptiness is replaced by His unconditional love and I realize yet once again in that moment I must never take my eyes off of Christ.

 Christ never promised us a life void of suffering, sickness, death, evil wickedness, or hatred for He warned us this would surely come.  What He does promise is eternal life, where our ephemeral earthly sorrow will be replaced with eternal heavenly joy.  As I continue to sit there I begin to think about life with an eternal perspective and with this renewed eternal perspective of thought….. I hear myself release an overwhelming sign of relief………

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

(John 16:33 NIV)

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“I think I see more of Christ than I ever saw; and yet I see but little of what may be seen.”    

—-Samuel Rutherford