Hey Death, BITE me!

BITE is out tonight.  it is dedicated to a wonderful woman of God who has taught me more about living than anyone I know.

 

Bite:

There is a certain sleepy South Dakota town which lies just off the Interstate 29 and most people would miss the jewel that it is unless you drive off the main road, stop awhile, and take up residence.  It is the kind of town where groups of farmers congregate in shifts at the local gas station and receive coffee refills for 75 cents and where kids appear in your backyard simply because they know your son or daughter and they want to play outside after school.  Many would choose not to settle here, opting for larger cities or something closer to bigger shopping and malls.  There is really nothing outstanding that would set this town apart from most small town rural America, nothing except its commitment to its residents.

In this town on a particular fall evening the local Legion Hall was bustling with music blaring down Main Street.  Streams of people milling in and out of the building made one wonder what sort of hoodlum party was taking place, grass skirts and coconuts litter the sidewalk.  Cars are parked diagonal and through the middle of the street as we see kids, teens, moms and dads accompanied by grandmas and grandpas filter into the hall.

Holding court, in a gaily colored leu is the reason they have all gathered.  In every way it looks like the Pacific islands have come to play for an evening.  Dancing, music, laughter, and more food than one can imagine line tables.  Succulent ribs and racks of bar b que are flanked by baked beans and one whole table is covered with slabs of cake with inch thick whipped frosting.  There is joy and conversation and youth alive in this space, and that is exactly how the guest of honor wants it.

She has come home to this little town on the prairie to live out her remaining days, a young woman with a body riddled with cancer, but a spirit which knows only grace and love unconditional.  Not yet thirty, she has fought the better part of her twenties with a disease that wants to claim her, she won’t let it.  She approaches it with a bite of grit and good humor and the kind of work ethic one imagines of a South Dakota raised woman.  There is nothing fleeting or wimpy about this woman, this warrior of mercy and forgiveness.

Yes of course, she would love to bite back at this wretched illness and kick its butt to the curb, and she has put up a valiant fight, so much that the townspeople would gladly take it from her.  She has mirrored for the younger teens in band how to hold their heads up with humble pride and dignity, never shirking from what her instinct told her she must do.  She has fought and in the process has shown each of us what it means to join the journey with someone, no matter how crappy the road ahead appears.

Time is running low for our girl and while we would all will every ounce of youth and health and strength to her, she has shown us how to let go and how to accept a fate that hurts.  She is honest in her ordeal, real in admitting that sometimes the pain has been too much to handle, that the road has not always looked pretty.  Yet, she has become even more beautiful as her life comes full circle.  Tonight residents poured out in droves to love on one of their own, she is beloved to them, to all who know her.  Her desire was to spend her last moments with her family, surrounded by support and the agape love she has come to know from her Creator.  As she prepares to say goodbye to her earthly family, she is aware of the eternal family waiting to embrace her.  Again, she teaches us with quiet grace what moving toward eternity looks like.  She demonstrates the sweet Spirit of Holy listening and resilient resolve.

“I want to be home, and that’s where I am going.”  Welcome home to our lovely young woman, an example of Psalms which tells us that death no longer has a sting, no longer has a bite.  She has embraced the essence of living and the Promise of eternity awaits her and we are better children of God for having shared her journey.

 

1 Corinthians 15:54-56

The Message (MSG)

51-57 But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed.

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