Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sticky Agape

Today’s Reading: John 14:9 (NIV)

Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

Good afternoon!

This morning, I received the news that my dear friend Meredith, who has fought cancer for the last seven years of her life, lost her earthly battle and won the victory in Jesus. She has gone home to glory, where there is now no more pain or suffering or tears of sadness. She is forever in the embrace of our Lord, and that brings me great comfort and joy. Yet, even with that assurance, my heart is breaking for her family and for all of us who knew and loved her. I met Meredith on the campus of Saint Louis Community College at Meramec the summer of 2000, when we enrolled in the same summer computer class. She had taken HTML and understood a computer language that was foreign to me. The two of us would sit in the back of the computer lab together, giggling and whispering as we struggled through course work together. If it had not been for her encouragement and support, I would not have passed that class. Our friendship simply grew from there. We became avid scrapbooking buddies, hanging out together on Saturdays, filling our scrapbooks with pages and pages of pictures and recording our precious memories of life and love, family and friends. Meredith had two nieces that she adored, and I heard all about her family’s adventures, especially after she would return home from a holiday visit or after a summer’s vacation. Meredith became an integral part of my family, and our Faith family here in St. Charles. She helped resolve some of the church’s website issues, and frequented our worship services and Sunday school classes. Someday, I will pass from this world into the arms of Jesus, and I know whose face I will see at the gate, standing there, waving for me to come on in. I can’t wait to see Meredith! I may not recognize her at first, but there will be no mistaking her sweet smile and contagious laughter. Her life intersected with mine in a deep and meaningful way. I will carry her spirit within my heart for the rest of my days. I miss her already.

I cried through most of worship this morning. Everything I heard and saw reminded me of my sweet sister in Christ. God, in His awesome master plan, continues to bring some really special people into my life just when I needed them the most. Laura Beth, who now attends school with me at Lindenwood University, has come to my rescue on more than one occasion. She sat next to me in the pew today, as I blubbered into a box of Kleenex I borrowed from the choir room. During the offertory, Laura Beth leaned over and whispered, “You do know what this is, don’t you?” I shook my head and waited for her reply. Just then, she smiled and softly said, “Sticky agape.” I laughed out loud, because at that very moment, I knew exactly what she meant. Every time the Holy Spirit moves, my nose runs, and when I cry, my face swells up and my nose gets red, and I tend to blubber uncontrollably. It’s not pretty. Still, the Father has given us bittersweet tears and lots of sticky agape, just to remind us of His love, especially when we’re hurting and broken hearted, and in pain. It is His gentle nudge that lets us know we are so not alone, even when life does not turn out the way you had hoped it would.

Jesus seemed surprised when He asked Philip the question, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” I know now that when I was in the presence of my dear friend Meredith, I was in the presence of my Lord. You see, He lived in her heart then, and He lives in her heart now. Knowing this should change everything about how we feel about the ones God has placed in our lives. Every person is precious and beautiful and valued in the Father’s eyes.

Do you recognize the Lord in the faces of your family and friends? Can you see Him working in the lives of those you share community with? Don’t miss out on His very best for you. Take a good look, and make time today for the people He has given you to love! Be blessed in His presence through the presence of your family and friends.

Dear Meredith, thank you for being my friend. I’ll see you soon, sister!

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO

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