I met my friend Nancy in Mr. Holden's 7th grade Science class. We had to choose a buddy to sit with the whole year. She was at the back of the room with braids, braces and a big smile. She looked friendly...almost like she was saving a seat for me...so I sat with her. We became best friends.
Through our school years, Nancy grew in grace and elegance. She was good for me. She dared me to set aside my dad's shirts and jeans every once in a while to "try pretty". I enticed her with the comfort of blue jeans and barefeet, and gave her driving lessons in my dad's truck.
Her talent in art was obvious from the start. She used to "doodle" on our school folders so we had something to color during boring classes. I loved her music too, she would take out her guitar and sing "Time in a Bottle" and it warmed my soul. She loved what she did so much she encouraged us to express ourselves in art, music and writing.
Being pretty and outgoing brought popularity, boyfriends and the eventual heart break. But, I never heard an unkind word for anyone. She always looked for the best in everyone...she saw the masterpiece God had planted within them.
Nancy wanted to be so many things: artist, opera singer, teacher, pianist, wife and mother. But I think the greatest career that God bestowed upon her was Evangelist. You see, early on she started to have physical challenges, seizures, strokes and Lupus...this kept her in a constant dance with doctors and nurses. And wherever she went, she brought Jesus with her.
Her survival to 50 was a miracle to the medical community--but not to her. She had a testimony to share with the world...and what better podium than "patient"? (And she surely was a patient patient.) She reached so many with her life! If you look around to family, friends, neighbors and community, you will see a legacy of celebration she has left for us to share in our own lives.
In the Bible the 50th year is the Year of Jubilee...it is a year of celebration where debts are forgiven, slaves were freed and land was returned to original owners. Did you know that Nancy turned 50 this year?
So why am I not surprised that my friend...my sister...is celebrating her Jubilee year with the One who created her? She is free from the slavery of sickness, her debts were already paid by Christ and she has arrived in the land that Jesus promised to prepare for her. I can imagine that smile, and a few empty seats she's saving for us all.
How can we not celebrate this life who gave us a peek at the Creator and Artist of us all? She lived the Good News--and now she rests in the arms of the One who sent her.
Nancy would want me to ask you this...would you like to know the joy and peace that kept her going through sickness, heart break and disappointment? Do you know Jesus? She knew Him and lived for Him...not a religion, not a belief...but a relationship that compelled her to Celebrate every Day.
"Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won't she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she'll call her friends and neighbors: 'Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!' Count on it—that's the kind of party God's angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God."
Luke 15:8-10 (MSG)