and again and again and again..
Last Friday another life ended too soon. Too early. Too wrong.
I knew Anya because her friend Sophie brought her to our church. I saw a change in her over the years that only happened because of Jesus. He didn’t make her perfect, she didn’t stop struggling, but she was changed because of Jesus and today, she is in Heaven because of Jesus. Because her friend invited her to church, she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. A couple years ago I wrote a post about How Suicide Changed My Life after a friend of mine took her life. Since then, I have lost several more friends. We have lost several more people in our community and in our world because of this tragic decision. Because of this one time, final choice.
When it happens over and over it’s easy to get mucked down in the darkness, it’s easy to hear lies and deceit and get discouraged. But every time I ask God to show me something I can learn. I ask this in everything I face.. good or bad. I’m constantly praying for God to show me some way that I can walk away different. I have learned that we cannot prevent suicide but we can allow to Jesus to shine brighter through us. This weekend, I have learned that and so much from a 17 year old girl named Sophie. I have loved Sophie for years and I have watched her live out the last couple years purely finding Jesus after growing up in a tough childhood. God has shown her incredible mercy by giving her the most incredible family who has taken her in and shown her Jesus. I have watched her take the Jesus she has been shown and not only let it change her, but she has changed others. She has taken her Jesus to the people God has placed all throughout her path. Because of Sophie’s life a life now gone was changed for eternity. She has taught me so much but I wanted to share a few I’ve seen in the last couple of days..
She has taught me that showing Jesus to people matters. Growing up in the Bible belt sometimes it’s easy to think everyone knows Who Jesus is and showing Jesus to people doesn’t really make a difference. Or maybe even sometimes it’s easy to think that person doesn’t want to see Jesus. If we only knew how many people, how many people trying to follow Christ, are confused because of the way the church acts and the way ‘Christians’ treat others, I wonder if it would change us. As Christians, we are being watched. Possibly today more than ever. Showing Jesus to people matters. The way we treat people, the way we handle ourselves, the way we grieve, the way we talk, the way we act, the way we live. People are watching and they are basing Jesus off of who we are. Um…. talk about pressure. No, we cannot and we will not ever adequately reflect Jesus but this isn’t us trying to be Christ-like. We fail. This is Jesus living through us, working through us, shining through us. Will we still mess up? Yes. Will we still disappoint others? Yes. But so will they. When we allow Christ to live through our lives, our weakness is His Strength. Our weakness is seen in His Light, His Grace, His Love.
“I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”—Galatians 2:20
She has taught me that bringing people to church matters. Over the last couple of years I have watched her bring friends to church, to small group and to retreats. She hasn’t been afraid to bring her friends. Maybe part of this was so she would have a friend with her. But in bringing her friends to church, their lives have been changed. I can’t help but think about how different our lives would be if she hadn’t invited her friends to church with us. If she hadn’t invited Anya to church. There are so many ways Anya’s life could have gone differently these last couple years. She might have not had these last couple years. But ultimately, we know her eternity could have been completely different. We never know the life Jesus might change through us simply bringing someone to church.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
She has taught me what we know doesn’t matter. Sometimes we don’t tell people about Jesus because the devil tells us we don’t know enough. We don’t know what to say if someone asks a question. What if we invite someone to church and they ask us a question we don’t know how to answer? We’ve all had these feelings, haven’t we? I have watched Sophie learn more and more about Jesus while bringing others to Him. We are all always learning. We will never know everything. It doesn’t matter how much Sophie knows, she has brought people with her. She has lived her life as “I don’t know, but let’s find out together.” I have learned so much by watching her do this. I often hear “People do not care how much you know unless they know how much you care.” Sometimes sharing in the not knowing is a big enough testament to Jesus being so much greater than us and we are all on the road to finding out more and more about Him! Letting our guard down, not being perfect, not having it all together- This will reach more than we ever will making it all look good on the outside.
She has taught me how we love matters. I’m convinced that our love matters more than anything else we will ever say or do. How we allow Jesus to love through us is the only way to bring others to Him, bring others to church with us and to show them we care. Sophie loves fully, sincerely and deeply. This is how Jesus brought others to Himself, He loved. God loved. God loved the world so much that He sent His Son to die for us so we wouldn’t have to, so we could spend eternity with Him. He did that because He loves us so much. How much more should we love to show His love. We are not humanly capable of loving as much as God loves us. Showing love to others matters. How we love matters. How we love shows Jesus. How we love brings others to church. When we allow Jesus to love through us, how we love will bring others to Him.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
These things certainly will not prevent suicide, they will not prevent struggle, they will not prevent trials- but they will bring Jesus brighter into the world. I think it’s incredibly amazing that Jesus chooses us to show Himself through. He tells us that we are the light of the world because He is the light of the world. When we allow Him into our lives, He becomes the light in our life and He shines brighter than any other light. He is the only light in the darkness we face daily. We may not be able to prevent suicide- but we can shine the light Christ has given us by allowing Him to live through us, bring others with us and allow Him to love through us.
Sophie, you show me this every day. I am so thankful for your life and the way you live for Jesus daily. I am so thankful for the love you showed Anya. I am convinced she knew how much she was loved. You have the sweetest, most sincere heart and I am so blessed to know you. Thank you for teaching me so much. I love you so much.