A Legacy Worth Leaving (part 2)
Last week was trying for the Sandifer family. Marti’s sister, “Sister,” passed away after experiencing a stroke. Jordan Nelson also passed away about thirty minutes before Sister on May 9th. Both of these were unexpected deaths for two very different reasons. Sister, who did not have any obvious life threatening health issues, was alive and well on Friday and transitioned to heaven early Tuesday morning. Jordan, on the other hand, had three significant struggles with cancer since she was sixteen. The first one God took care of after the doctors said nothing could be done by not allowing it to grow. The second one came just last June when the doctors said nothing could be done. In August, in spite of treatments, the tumor in her brain had grown and the diagnosis was fatal. On November 14 of last year the tumor was completely gone along with the original tumor and another one that had not been diagnosed. Then for a third time at the end of March/beginning of April, this cancer came back with a vengeance and once again many people prayed. Having seen what God had done with the first two, many of us held out hope (not a wishful hope) that God would once again show His power and His glory through healing Jordan. We know that she has been ultimately healed, however we were holding on to a healing that would have kept her here. God had other plans.
I am writing this, not to discuss God’s other plans, but to share about the impact these two women had for the Kingdom of God. Sister was sixty-one and Jordan was twenty-two. Jordan was young and had a fiancée and a career path in the dental field. Sister had been single all her life and never had a specific career path, although she worked all her life. However, this is where the differences end…both of these women loved people. They both seemed to be drawn to those who felt outcast or overlooked, those who might not fit into any certain category. I have been told of the great numbers of people who came to the visitation and attended the celebration of life for Jordan. This does not surprise me because her prayer was that her journey with cancer would touch just one person. However she touched many lives with her strength and outlook during her journey. I know personally she touched Marti and my life in a very personal way, along with the Mt. Pleasant family. She also touched the life of a stranger in an elevator, the people at the Waffle House, the doorman at the clinic and many more.
Sister had been impacting lives for many years. I imagine some people might have felt some sense of pity for her, because from a worldly standpoint her life might have looked empty. Let me tell you her life was anything but empty. Sister’s life was a journey of a lifetime. When everyone else at Wylam Baptist had given up on the church Sister stayed and served God. She would not abandon the few youth and children who would show up. It wasn’t that she wouldn’t, it was she couldn’t. Once she moved to Bethel Baptist and the Pleasant Grove community she continued to love others and serve God. She loved the outcast, the forgotten, and the abandoned. From a cousin who lived with her family, to the young people she reached out to, revealing the love and acceptance of Jesus Christ. She loved Bethel Baptist (her church) and wanted it to be the best it could be. Sister did everything she could do and knew to do in order to insure Bethel Baptist was a place where people were loved and accepted. Her funeral was one of the largest I have ever seen that was not for some dignitary or prominent person. She was just Sister... but the outpouring of love at her celebration of life service it was evident she had touched many lives.
I write all of this to bring up a point. Both of these women were relatively of little importance as the world views importance. However, they were of the utmost importance to those they loved and cared for as they journeyed through this life. They were both genuine in who they were, not perfect but genuine. Once again I am at a place in my life that I want to evaluate my love for others, my motivation for loving others and ask myself this question. “Do I love others genuinely or am I self-serving in loving others?” What about you? Does your love for the outcast, the lonely, and the abandoned look anything like Jordan’s and Sister’s? Their love imitated the love they received and saw in Christ! Christ left a legacy of loving all the whosoevers. Sister and Jordan followed Christ’s example and continued His legacy. WILL YOU KEEP THE LEGACY OF LOVE ALIVE?
English Standard Version (ESV)
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.’