It was a long Sunday. I began working at 2:00 a.m. and by 5:30 p.m. was ready to collapse from exhaustion. Instead of taking time to deal with the loss of my 40-year-old friend, Kevin Budd, who had passed away the day before, I worked. He was a talented steward of music, yet without stopping to relish his legacy or recharge my desperately low emotional and physical batteries, I hastily prepared to leave for a speaking engagement. The telephone interrupted the frenzied pace. It was another emergency. My 48-year-old friend, Karen Lumb, was desperately ill in a Reno, Nevada, hospital. I dropped everything and rushed to her side, arriving minutes after her parents. We were devastated by the poor prognosis.
I’ve comforted many bereaved members after a death or funeral, but I was not prepared for the process I experienced that week. Karen’s struggle with cancer was short-lived but seemed like an eternity as I sat at her bedside that final week.
One morning, after she asked to be taken to her familiar New England surroundings, her physician tersely remarked that she wouldn’t make it home alive.
She told us that in spite of his negativity, she had hope. “Do you have hope?” she asked each one of us, pressing for personal assurances.
“Yes,” I said, tentatively adding “but I’m prepared to deal with reality.” Our body language belied our words. Karen soon realized the “reality” we were anticipating was death, not a miracle of life; yet she never lost faith or hope. She was an excellent steward of relationships. Three days before her death she was still dispatching and receiving emails, maximizing every precious moment to touch the lives of family and friends one last time.
I wasn’t there that morning when my friend passed away. I had rushed home to comfort the family of Bette Behrends, a former four-star veteran, wife, mother, dedicated volunteer, and friend, who lost her battle with the dreaded disease, cancer. She was a faithful steward of love who spent her last hours reminding her family of our blessed hope in the return of Jesus Christ to put an end to death’s unlimited dominion over us.
Proverbs 31:10-31 speaks powerfully to the woman who is a good steward of all her resources. The phrase “she is not afraid of snow” in verse 21 speaks poignantly to this. As I reflected on how fragile our lives and tenuous our existence in the aftermath of losing three special people in ten days, I had to admit that I’ve been afraid of the snow, both spiritually and existentially. After the Nor’easters and blizzards during the winter of 1996, which dumped over 130 inches of snow on New England, I fled from the East to embrace the uninterrupted warmth of the West. But my three friends, no matter what the winter of their experience, were not afraid of the snow, not even the blizzard of death. They left a rich legacy of how to be honorable stewards of a life lived in Christ in the living years. They showed me how to plow through the snowdrifts of fear, the enemy of faith, which paralyzes. I learned to strengthen my weak knees to escape the avalanches of criticism that so often cripple potential. I want to capture every ray of hope showered from the Son of Righteousness. Are you afraid of the snow?
“She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet” (Proverbs 31:20, 21, RSV).
By Hyveth Williams
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