This is a hard post. I’m sure I’ll not get through it without crying but you won’t be able to see me, so that’s kind of immaterial. And the most important part of this story is IT IS NOT ABOUT ME. Please. Lord, Jesus, don’t let an inch of ugly ass pride set in. For this story is all about you. And about Sarabeth.
Last Wednesday evening or Thursday morning there was a picture on my FaceBook feed of a young woman who had gone missing. I stared at the picture. I stared at the name. I knew the girl, I knew the name. I remembered her name because I have another young friend who is also named Sarabeth and I had mentioned that to her when we met. Which was where? I could not place the girl, nor her face. I just knew that we had had something special.
I couldn’t get the image of Sarabeth out of my head. I read everything I could about her over the next day or so. And then early the next morning I read that she was a Lyme Disease advocate. That very moment everything clicked.
I write this post because I have to, my brain won’t settle and my heart is fighting the Peace that is beyond circumstance, that is beyond understanding. I’m writing for Sarabeth, for those who loved her, but mostly for the ONE who loved her and loves her still. I am writing this as a love song to Jesus.
We do a healing and prayer tent at a music festival here in Floyd VA. Last summer was our fifth year. When we started all I knew was we were supposed to make it pretty and inviting. I didn’t know what we would do there, who would come, if anyone would come. When we applied as vendors in the juried Healing Arts part of the festival I wasn’t even sure what to say we were planning on doing, because I just didn’t know myself. As I finally explained to our dear HA coordinator, “I don’t know. We are followers of Jesus. I just know that he said we are supposed to do it. I guess you could say we simply are called to pray for people. For physical healing, for spiritual healing, for emotional healing. And to love on them. Anyway they may need.” Somehow with that vague answer we were accepted and have been privileged to do HomeBase (the name of our ministry) for the past five years.
Some day soon I’ll tell you other stories about HomeBase. About the wonderful people we have met and the family that God has created because we have the privilege to minister together, being absolutely clueless about what will happen next.
This past summer our first “customer” on the Wednesday before things get swinging was a beautiful young woman who wandered into the half set up tent and wondered aloud what the heck we do there. As I went through my rote, “I’m not really sure. It always looks different. Mostly we pray for people for stuff they need.”
She told me that she had chronic Lyme’s and that she was there to work in the non-profit section as a Lyme’s Disease advocate. We talked a bit. I told her my neighbor is a doctor who specializes in Lyme’s. We decided together to pray that God would heal her, get her through the festival, help her impact others. That prayer quickly began to morph. Not on my own volition. It was a day ordained, a day to unashamedly share the gospel, a day a young girl asked Jesus to be her Savior.
Here’s where I interject something that the Lord has been putting on my heart. I spend 37 years believing and hoping that many paths led to salvation. I lived life my way, I dragged God along as I deemed fit and when I most needed him. What I’ve been processing the last few days is that there is one way to God. I know that in my being, but I’ve not known how to articulate it without seeming judgmental, without sounding like I’ve got this and you don’t. What has become so very apparent when I’ve thought about this blog is although the way through Jesus is called the narrow path, it really is the easy path. He has done all the work. I don’t have to get my shit together, I don’t have to be holier than thou; I don’t have to have the “work” completed. He has long ago done all the work. He has prepared the way. He has made the yoke easy. He has hung on the cross.
Sarabeth got all this that Wednesday at FloydFest. She opened her heart and her hands (I held them open and He filled them with His Spirit) and she made a decision for Jesus. She chose eternal life. She chose abundant life. She chose joy.
I have been just undone thinking what He planned back in July, knowing what would happen in December. Earlier this week Sarabeth died on the side of the mountain where I live, barely two miles as the crow flies from my safe, comfy home. None of this is easy, or feels even a hint of being fair. But it is finished. Sarabeth dances with him now, the Lover of her soul, body and mind fully restored and whole.
If I may be so bold, I don’t believe people become angels when they die. The Bible says that angels long to understand the salvation that God had in mind for humans when he created them in his image. Our destiny, our reunion with God is not the boring harp-playing, Clarence working tirelessly to ever earn his wings. Somehow we can better understand that than the mystical reality that God chose us. He made the way. He reconciled his creation (his image) to himself. And he began this with Sarabeth Rose Hammond on a seemingly inconsequential Wednesday in July of 2016. Sarabeth, you leave us all different people. People who grieve deeply, so very deeply. But a people that understand better what it is to not grieve without hope. Your life was precious. Your death was tragic. Your legacy is and will be forevermore amazing. I will always love you, Girl. I will never forget. Thank you Jesus, for being You. Amen.