Many of you know of our precious friend Sharon Washburn who, earlier this week, defeated cancer and the grave by the blood of Jesus and is in Heaven where there is no more sin, sickness, pain, or death. My heart pours out prayers and tears for her husband, daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren, family, and friends, but there is not an ounce of that grief that is for her now. Maybe a tinge of envy until it’s our turn to join her! I was thinking that I wished for all who loved her to see her for just one moment in all the glory of her homecoming celebration, but then I thought that on seeing that glimpse, our earthly bodies would probably just instantly give up their will to live and we would die on the spot from sheer overwhelming desire to be there worshipping our Lord and Savior. Someday…
Because we live out of town and are making the preparations to attend the funeral by canceling our weekend activities and letting coaches, teachers, teammates, co-workers, etc. know that we will be absent, we have had quite a few opportunities to talk about Sharon. As I began to prepare for these communications, the Lord spoke to my heart. He said, “Sharon has fought a battle for ME, I am holding her family, I have defeated sin, death, sickness, and separation so that all of you have the hope of one day being here with us. I don’t want you to tell people that you’re leaving town for a funeral. I want you to tell them where she is.” I am not a shy person, but I am certainly not always as bold as I could be. I deal with all the lingering doubts of my own abilities to communicate God in the right way to those who doubt His goodness or existence. I want so much not to say something that could cause them to mock or misunderstand Him even more than they do. But I know I should trust Him for the words. So this week I have tried my best. And whether they wanted this version or not, all of our contacts in Austin are hearing that our friend Sharon is celebrating her victory with her Savior while we go to Fort Worth to love on the family waiting until they can be reunited with her. And it’s kind of funny because once you go crazy, you figure you might as well go all out and it gets a lot easier.
Out of this has already come an amazing email correspondence with one coach who shared that he and his wife have experienced much tragedy and there was such a tone of hopelessness in what he said. How I am begging God to shine hope through our family into that one! Would we have had this conversation without our sweet Sharon’s story? I don’t know. God decided to tell it through her. I have a strong feeling her memorial service will give a powerful message of what God has done in and through her. They are going to be streaming it live on the website if any of you would like to attend from afar. It will be at 11:00 am on Saturday, October 22nd at www.thehills.org.
For thousands of years, ever since the death and resurrection of Jesus, God has been confounding the plans of Satan and of men through the mind-defying aspect of Christianity that in physical death, Christ in us only grows stronger. Martyrs, prisoners, exiles are all willing to proclaim the precious Name of Jesus because it doesn’t stop at the grave! The worst our enemy can throw at us has no power! Oh, if I only lived each day that way! May the way we share His story reflect the absolute fearlessness we are given through His shed blood. I love this passage in 1 Corinthians 15. It has played over and over in my head this week as I have thought about Sharon and prayed for her family. Where is your sting, death? Swallowed up…not pushed down, or lessened, or diminished, but SWALLOWED UP in the victory of the cross! AMEN AND AMEN!
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.