We are all living on borrowed time. Not even a single one of us has done anything to earn the right to be born or the right to live. The English word grace actually comes from the Greek word charis, which means gift. Life itself is just pure grace…life itself is just pure gift. And regardless of how dark, hopeless, or painful this moment might be, we must celebrate the life of Lindsay with this in mind. We must honor and celebrate the gift of life she was given by God, and the gift of life she gave to the world.
We have to remember Lindsay well. Now, I just want us to take a moment–maybe about a minute in silence thinking about the good memories that we have of Lindsay. Her smile, her laugh, the ridiculous inside jokes that you had together that no one else would ever think are funny besides you and her, or the things that you loved doing together. The memories become the images that fill up the pages of our memory for the rest of our life. Let’s take a moment to do that right now…
One of the most important ways to honor the loss of a loved one is to allow their life to be a catalyst for us to begin reflecting inwardly on our own life. The felt presence of death carries the profound potential to provide us with a kind of clarity the normal pace and routine of our lives simply don’t allow for. Or, sometimes the weight of death causes us to reflect with a level of depth we spend most of our time trying to avoid because of our fear of what we might see if we allow ourselves to get that deep. How will our lives change because of having a relationship with Lindsay? How will we be different because of her life? What are the things that you normally spend so much time, energy, and worry on that you know right now, really don’t matter? Are there things in your life you can identify that truly have eternal value?
Regardless of where we are, or who we are at any particular moment, there is always a more beautiful way of living. There is always room in our lives for more love, more compassion, more honesty, more integrity, more selflessness, more patience, and more peace. The world is in need of people who embody these qualities and as an extension of the love Lindsay shared while she was here, we must extend this kind of love to the world.
I’m sure most of us would agree that living a life that is more fully alive is the right way to honor and remember Lindsay’s life. But what about Lindsay’s life? What about her? We have all of these questions in the face of death in and of itself, but we have even more complex and disturbing questions due to the mystery and uncertainty surrounding Lindsay’s death. I mean, what really happened? But, I was not asked to come here to provide answers the these questions, instead I was asked by Lindsay’s cousin Lauren to remind you that the mysterious, life-giving, loving, restoring, comforting, and healing presence of God is in this place and is able to sustain us in the midst of these questions. And that this presence is like a whisper of invitation from our creator that calls us to find healing, to find restoration, to find a loving embrace, to experience light in the midst of darkness, and to find the kind of hope that allows us to know there is still life to be lived.
1 LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2 Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint; heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony. 3 My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?
4 Turn, LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. 5 Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave?
6 I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. 7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.
8 Away from me, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping. 9 The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.
And if we allow ourselves to bring this kind of vulnerability, and honesty before God, their is no doubt in my mind that God’s active love will embrace us, and begin to put our broken pieces back together.
As hard as it is for me to utter these words, I have to end by saying that we have to release Lindsay and let her go. We can do this because we are not releasing her into an oblivion; but rather into the gentle hands and eternally loving embrace of our Lord. Many of you may not know this, but many of Lindsay’s fondest memories growing up were attending youth retreats with her cousin Lauren. I believe this is so not only because she was deeply loved and embraced by her cousin, but also, and much more profoundly, because it was in those spaces that she encountered, and was embraced by the beautiful love of God in Jesus. And I believe that God connected with Lindsay in those places, was present with her in her struggles, pain, and brokenness, and embraced her in fullness when she passed away. And now she is experiencing that which is truly real and truly good, and whose goodness and forgiveness continues to be extended to each one of us today.
Written By: Kevin Sweeney