Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sara's Thoughts - 04/17/2014

Katie, Me, and Jessica (my other best friend) at my bridal shower.
It has been almost a week since one of my best friends moved in with Jesus. My emotions, which were - when the accident took place - intense and unpredictable, have settled down significantly. My heart is quiet and thoughtful, and my mind is frequently occupied with the many pleasant childhood memories I have of Katie. Occasionally I will get a flash of my most recent (and painful) memories and I lose my breath for a few seconds, but then I remember where Katie is and Who she is with and the peace returns.

So this is what it's like to lose someone you love deeply.

It's not what I expected. When things were still uncertain with Katie, different scenarios ran through my mind. My brain has always tried to "plan" for multiple possibilities with the various situations I've faced, and this time was no different. I knew that God could choose to give her the ultimate healing by bringing her home to be with Him, and I thought I knew how I would respond if He did. Surely it would be the response most people have: intense pain, fear, anger (mostly at God), a need to blame someone or something, a lack of control, and feeling overwhelmed by it all. Yet that isn't at all what I experienced. Yes, there was intense pain and I felt helpless to change the situation. But there was also peace, and hope, and rejoicing.

What amazes me most is the way God is using this whole thing. Even before Katie breathed her last on this earth, I saw Him moving in the midst of our troubles. It's as if the black sky of that whole week suddenly exploded with His powerful light, and people who rarely - if ever - thought about Jesus are now having to take a good, hard look at their lives and decide how they are going to respond to Him. It's what Katie would have wanted, and it's what she lived for. If she could have known what would happen to her, and see that Christ would be so greatly glorified, she would have willingly died for that purpose. I can't see all the things that will happen as a result of this situation, but I know God is going to change lives - including mine. I already feel like a completely different person from who I was two weeks ago.

Strangely enough, I don't feel like I lost someone. It doesn't feel like Katie has died as much as it feels like she has come alive, as if she is living and breathing for the first time.`

"For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known." -1 Corinthians 13:12

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Where Joy And Sorrow Meet

I just lost my best friend.

Yesterday was a day of waiting, because by that point it seemed certain that her journey was coming to an end. The sun set, I climbed in bed, and somehow I knew that when I woke the next morning, my sweet friend and sister in Christ would be with the Lord. This week has been filled with grief, countless tears, and deep pain for me and so many others who knew and loved Katie, so I felt certain that today would be the hardest day of my life. In a sense, I suppose, it is. Yet while I have cried and the pain and grief are still strong, I felt something else that I have never experienced before: The joy of the Lord.

As the day progressed my joy grew, until the only thing I could do was turn on some music and celebrate. You see, Katie Klinect was utterly and hopelessly in love with Jesus Christ, and I can't help but be so excited and happy that she's finally seeing Him face-to-face! Her wait is over, and she's with the Lover of her soul. After all of my mourning and grieving and praying, feeling drained and empty, I now feel so full. God is so good, and His mercies are evident in this time. How can I do anything but rejoice and praise the Lord for bringing her home at last? When I think about how deliriously happy she is right now, I can't help but smile.

For the first time in my life, I understand what it Scripture means when it says, "the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). And what a joy it is! Only the love and grace of Jesus can create a lasting joy and peace in your soul. I can't get enough of what I'm experiencing in Him! I know that Katie had that same joy, and she was not afraid of wherever the Lord would take her.

God has blessed me with so many wonderful memories of Katie. She was a beacon of hope to me through many ups and downs that I faced, and I am glad our separation is only temporary. She lived her life to the fullest and for the glory of God every single day.

"Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning." -Psalm 30:5

Joy truly did take me by surprise this morning, and there aren't words to describe the lasting peace that comes with knowing Jesus Christ. Is yours a life marked by peace? By joy? Only in the Lord is there a calm in the midst of storms. Only with Jesus Christ is there a peace that passes all understanding. Only in Him can you find joy through hard times. Look around a bit if you want to, but I can promise you won't find it.

Katie, I love you so much. You've been such an amazing friend to me, and have been my [not-so] "secret sister" since we were little girls. Get that party started, and pick some awesome music please (like you could do anything else)! I'll see you again before you know it!

Me with my beautiful Indian princess. I love you, Katie!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sara's Thoughts - 04/11/2014

Life is hard right now. Exactly a week ago, my dear friend Katie was in a horrible bicycling accident that hurt her badly and left her unconscious. They rushed her into surgery, and that night, her brother called to tell me that she was not going to live through the night. I hung up the phone, and thought, She's going to die. My best friend is going to die. I wept that night, and every day since as Katie made progress, and then experienced more setbacks. A week ago, the doctors had no hope. Then she lived through the night and there was a little hope. It even reached a point where they were sure she was going to live and recover. They started to wean her off of the medicine that keeps her in a coma, and her ICP and blood pressure went back up. They put her back on the medicine, but are now saying that it did further damage to her brain, and the movements she had until this point that gave evidence of brain activity are slowly coming to a stop. It's not looking good for my beautiful friend. God could still work a miracle (and I'm hoping and praying that He does), but He could also take her home.

Until now, I haven't experienced anything too horrible in life. You hear stories like Katie's on the news every day, but I never thought something like this would hit so close to home. In spite of all that has happened, and all the tears shed so far, I have peace. I'm not worried about Katie, or what is going to happen. From the moment I got that phone call on Friday night, I've felt an unusual calm in the midst of the pain. How is that possible? How can I not be freaking out when my friend has been at death's door for a week, and may still die?

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:6-7

God is in control of this situation. And Katie loves Jesus Christ more than anyone or anything in this whole world. Whether she stays or goes, I am comforted because I know I will see her again. The Lord has brought her through many challenges and difficulties throughout her life, and if He ends her suffering, then I am thankful for every moment I've had the privilege of sharing with Katie. God has always been amazing in her, and if going ahead of us into eternity means that more people will come to know Christ as their Savior, then I know it's what Katie would want. 

If you are hurting, know that God loves you so dearly. You are so priceless to Him, and He died for you so that you could know Him and experience His peace. We can't understand why He allows difficult things to happen in our lives, but we can know that He uses them for good (Romans 8:28). None of your tears are wasted. None of your suffering is meaningless. When you hurt, He hurts with you. Let Him be your Comforter, and take refuge in the shadow of His wings. Experience His peace which passes all understanding, and look to the future without fear. 

Posted below is a video of Katie giving her testimony. You may not know her, but by the end, you'll be able to see how special she is. I love you always, Katie.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sit At His Feet

For as long as I can remember, I have longed to know God and be like Jesus. When I failed to meet His standards (and I always did eventually), I would feel so frustrated. My failures even pushed me to the point of doubting my salvation, because I thought that "real Christians" always felt passionate about God and were diligent with their prayer time and Bible study. Yet I don't always feel passion for the Lord, and it's a daily struggle for me to spend time in the Word and in prayer. The enemy jumped at the chance to make me feel insecure in my salvation, and there were many nights when I laid in bed and worried about whether I really knew the Lord. If I did, why couldn't I be disciplined in my time with Him? Why didn't I feel "fired up" for Jesus all the time? Why didn't I hear Him speaking to me? Maybe wasn't saved.

One day, I talked to Garrett about how I was feeling. What if I was like those that Jesus describes in Matthew 7:21, saying "Lord, Lord" but not really knowing Him? What if I thought I was a sheep, but I was really a goat (Matthew 25:31-46)? My husband was quiet for a moment, and then he said something so profound (which I will paraphrase): Jesus Christ saves us by grace through faith. Our faith is the acceptance of that grace which He bestowed on us when He took our sin on the cross. If we believe that He can save us, then we must keep trusting that He did save us. What I was feeling wasn't the conviction of the Holy Spirit over my lost state, but fear that Jesus hadn't really saved me. 

"For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment." 
-2 Timothy 1:7

When I stop and really think about it for any length of time, I know I have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is my first love, the love of my life, my everything. I want to know Him and be like Him. And I have heard from Him many times (just not audibly). I think sometimes, when you get saved at an early age like I did, you have a hard time discerning your spiritual state because there isn't much of a life "before Christ" to contrast it with. God has been showing me lately that since surrendered my heart to Him, I have been trying to be Jesus in my own life. Not merely that I have tried to be like Jesus, but that I have been attempting to do in my own power what only He can do. The problem is not that I have been trying to save myself (because only Jesus can save), but rather that I have been trying to sanctify myself. Instead of letting go and letting God make me into the image of His Son, I just "try harder" to be like Christ. In my own power, that's impossible.

So if I really am a follower of Christ, why is it that I keep struggling to do what is right? Why can't I just spend time in the Word and pray like I'm supposed to already? Why can't I feel super close to God all of the time? Well, one reason is that I want to do it because I'm supposed to. There's no joyful desire in my heart to do it "as unto the Lord" because I can't will myself to desire the things of God. I can't even make myself want God! It's God who enables me to want what He wants, love what He loves, hate what He hates, and feel close to Him. Until I let him have control of my heart and life, I'm not going to want to do any of the things that Christians should want to do. In Romans 7, we see that Paul struggled with this as well:

"For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate...For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this principle: when I want to do good, evil is with me. For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God's law. But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin." -Romans 7:15, 18-24

Another reason that I keep struggling, I think, is simply because I'm a sinner. I've been saved by the grace of God through Christ's death on the cross, but there is still sin in me. My flesh (which desires what is evil) wars with my spirit (which now desires what is holy), and until I'm living in eternity with Jesus, I will continue to struggle. Sanctification doesn't fully happen in this life, but we do get started on the journey after we give our hearts to the Lord. In the meantime, I will continue to struggle with sin.

I think the remedy for my problem is this: Look to Christ. I focus far too much on how godly I want to be, and how I want my Christian life to look, and I forget the most important thing. Jesus Christ loves me, died for me, saved me, and is sanctifying me! The Creator of all things wants a personal relationship with me! Instead of worrying about whether something is crossed off of my Christian check list, I need to sit back at the feet of Jesus and just be with Him. When I really take the time to know the Lord, He'll place the right desires inside of me. Yes, there will come a point when I have to be disciplined (real relationships require effort from both people, after all), but the focus won't be on my failures anymore. The focus will be on the beauty and majesty of God Himself.

"While they were traveling, [Jesus] entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord's feet and was listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, 'Lord, don't You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.' The Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.'" -Luke 10:38-42

"I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking [Him] in His temple." -Psalm 27:4