Last night, over 1,000 people gathered to celebrate a life. Somehow, with a strength not their own, Darby’s parents courageously stood up and spoke in front of everyone. Her mom began by saying that every parent is biased, and that they are no different! And then she began to read words that others had used to describe their daughter in notes that had been written last week on Facebook, Twitter, and good old fashioned paper… two that stood out to me were “sweet” and “precious”. And the thing I kept hearing over and over was how much of a LIGHT she was to everyone she knew. This girl (the one above on the far right in the striped dress), loved Jesus. There was no doubt about it. Her words showed it, her Instagram showed it, her status updates on Facebook showed it, but most importantly, her LIFE showed it.
I actually didn’t know Darby very well at all. Of the high school d-groups (discipleship groups), she was the same age as my girls, but was in the other group. So why in the world did I go to a memorial service for a girl I barely knew? Because I knew her leaders. I knew some of her friends. And I knew what it was like to walk alongside a teenage girl during high school and I was hurting for my friends. I was hurting for Darby’s friends. I was hurting for her family. As I walked in and was able to hug Marianne (the brunette, 4th from the right on the front row), she said that not many people understand how much we love our girls. And they don’t… but I do. And if my purpose in being there last night was to hug her, to let her know that I was there and that I got it, then I’m glad for that!
But as the service went on, as we sang and worshiped our Savior, as we heard about this girl – this young woman – who had gone into eternity, I walked away ENCOURAGED! The pastors that spoke didn’t just talk about Darby and her abundant faith, they talked about the One she had put her faith IN. When she accepted Christ years ago, she had realized that she was a sinner and that there was nothing she could do to earn God’s favor. Nothing she would ever be able to accomplish, no amount of good deeds, and no amount of self-discipline would ever earn her enough to go to heaven. She realized that someone had stood and died in her place. Someone had sacrificed his perfect life so that she (nor any of us!) would have to. Yes, Jesus died for us. For all of us. But the best news of all of it is that he didn’t stay in the grave. Our hope can rest in him and God because he’s done what no one else has ever or will ever be able to do, he conquered death. So, when Darby put her trust in him years ago, she was already living for eternity.
One of her Instagram pictures from a couple of months ago was of a passage in II Corinthians she had highlighted in her bible… she knew that we were not meant to be in this world forever. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” II Corinthians 4:17-18
Things of this world will waste away, every tangible thing, including our bodies, will not last forever. But what we don’t see – God, His Spirit, our faith, eternity in heaven – WILL last forever. My tears last night weren’t just for mine and Darby’s friends who are hurting. They were also tears of joy because she is in heaven! She will never again feel pain, she will never have her heart broken, she will never have to suffer the brokenness of this world again. For whatever reason, God called her Home last week after a brain hemorrhage Her mom said that while they waited in the hospital, while they prayed and hoped for a recovery, her prayer was for a miracle. Her miracle she wanted was that Darby would be fully restored, fully healed, and would be able to go home. The thing is, she WAS fully restored, fully healed and was able to go Home… to heaven. God’s ways are not always our ways. In fact, His ways are always better. Because of what Darby went through last week, her parents have heard of people putting their faith in Christ. People who had not prayed in a long time (or maybe ever), got down on their knees to pray for this sweet girl and her family. And because her family believes that she has gone to be with her Savior, they’re able to rest and able to have peace… even though they’re still grieving! We don’t always get to see what God is doing. I’m thankful that this time, He’s given us a peek into what He’s up to by allowing us to see that others are coming to Him and putting their trust in Him.