A tribute to Terri Kelley from Is. 41:9-10.
1. Terri understood her position (9).
9You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its farthest regions, And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away:
God had made her in his image like all of us and she reflected many wonderful things about Him embedded in her, her flair for design and art, and creativity were reflections of the one who had formed her in the womb, planned before the world began.
But she wasn't in tune with him and she would tell us she was like a lost sheep running away from her creator, running away from the Shepherd,
He had pursued her wanderings from Him in the farthest reaches of ,beyond where she like all of of us she could not rescue herself.
She came to realize later on in life the she loved Him because he had first loved her. Like all of us, she was lost, blind, without true life in the oneness of God.
But He had found her, and in the corner of his universe in Midcoast Maine, He rescued her through the good news of HIs eternal Son he had sent, Jesus of Nazareth,
Jesus was crucified for others’ sin unjustly as the innocent one, abandoned, rejected, shamed, buried in the rocky earth of Jerusalem, his death expertly executed and validated by the Roman gvt, but after 3 days alive and shown to many eyewitnesses in appearance and the vacant wide open tomb in which he had lain cold hours before guarded by the Roman army.
She had committed her life to the One who had committed his own life for her on the cross for her.
Jesus had chased her down and through the good news of his work for her had called her HIS chosen one. He was hers and she was His.
Knowing that security and knowing the great cost at which Her King had pursued her and provided for her gave her an assurance, a confidence that as she faced life and its challenges, NOTHING could separate her from the Fatherly care that had been paid in full for eternity.
When the dreaded diagnosis of cancer struck, and the difficult decisions of how to proceed for care and the fragility of her body and what it could handle, in the face of fear and uncertainties, the eternal truth that, like ancient Israel, God had taken her from the ends of the earth and called her through His Son and had pledged his life to be her faithful eternal Good King in this life and beyond, empowered her and Don with boldness, peace, and confidence that her Shepherd would carry her all the way home. The suffering of this life would grow into an eternal weight of glory that would be beyond imagination as a seed planted in the ground that grows to be a beautiful flower in the radiance of the rays of the Sun.
Terri understood her position.
It was because Terri understood her position that Terri was also able to understand her provision.
2. Terri understood her provision (10)
10Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
After Yahweh reminded Israel who they were out of all the nations and what he had done in the past, he built on that established relationship to remind them that He would carry them through the present and the future.
There are 2 commands that are undergirded like steel pylons anchored deeply in the granite bedrock of Gods unchanging character that was to carry them through the good and bad that happens in life.
The commands : Do not Fear, Do not be discouraged.
That seems bold, audacious, eyebrow raising, doesn't it?
To say to people in a scary unknown situation don’t be afraid, don’t worry, dont be discouraged! Doesn't that bother you? Not very empathetic, compassionate--like, easy for you to say!
Unless there is something He knows and sees that you cant. Someone Who has dwelt in past, present, and future for all eternity. Someone who is WITH you. Some one who has forged an eternal relationship sealed with his blood that is YOUR father, Someone who is actually ABLE and ENTHUSIASTIC to give strength and help, someone who holds you with an eternal grip with a powerful hand that only does good and not evil.
Have you had the privilege of hiking Mt Katahdin? This past summer my 14 yr old son and I were invited to go with a bunch of guys who hike it just about every year. It was our first time but they had years of experience. they knew what to expect, the rocks where you need a hand, the nooks and crannies up the Cathedral trail, the pace to set across Knife edge, the subtle changes in the weather that can so quickly change, the places to stop and view, etc. We had to trust them.
But now imagine a 5 yr. old girl with her seasoned Father who is a registered guide. Even more of a gap in ability, knowledge, guidance. But you trust. You trust because He is your FATHER. YOUR father. He has proven his commitment to you. He will die for you, He will not run up the trail and leave you behind. He is WITH you and never will NOT be.
Fear not. Do not be dismayed. He will carry you when your little weary legs cant walk up the trail. He’ll sit down and spread out lunch before you to feed you as you look out over the view. He’ll share his water with you when you’re thirsty.
He’ll hold you firmly by the hand in his great big strong one in the sketchy scary parts as you walk the edge with nothing between you but the sky and the forest far below but the strong beating heart pulsing thru your fathers hand to your little hand.
And as you climb higher and the rocks get more jagged and steeper, he stands underneath you as his strong arms that are intent on only doing good for you lift you up to where you can't go by yourself and to where he has already been countless times before, and walked his other children, to to get you to where you can see the top and where the trail that was so hard and exhausting led.
And then you see it was worth it and He was the one who got you there.
Terri understood her provision. As she faced the evil monster of cancer and the fear and the discouragement, she claimed this promise. As she wrestled with the shrinking of her physical capabilities and the diminished physical life over these past several months, she knew her Father had walked with many down this trail, and He would lead her to her final destination.
Fear not, because HE was WITH her.
Do not be dismayed, HE was HER …God.
He would strengthen her by leading her to still waters, by preparing a banquet of sustenance in Him even in the face of her enemy.
He would help her and never unclasp his hand from hers as they walked the mountain together through the valley of the shadow of death and would comfort her and Don as their King.
He would pick her up and carry her and lift her to the next step, the next rock.
His goodness and his covenant mercy would pursue her all the days of her life and take her to the top where she walked to the edge of this world and in loyal trust step off to where they could sit together and see how it all fit and bathe in the glory that eternally outweighed the trip up where she dwells in her Father’s house forever.
One pastor, Lee Eclov, writes,
Among the wonders of our heaven-bound hope is the promise of new bodies. We peer through the windows of the Gospels’ stories of the risen Jesus to catch a glimpse of the bodies we, too, shall have—corporeal, able to eat and breathe, unhindered by miles, doors, and gravity, and able to shine like the sun.
Paul taught us how death will improve upon the seeds of these mortal bodies.
The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (1 Cor. 15:42-44)
“Raised imperishable,” incorruptible. Not only will our bodies never deteriorate but neither will any sin seep into our hearts to taint our blood-bought holiness. There, we can never be ruined.
“Raised in glory”—beauty, splendor, radiance. Our bodies will be bright and beautiful to see, they will have extraordinary dignity and grace, ready and willing to do anything our Christlike minds can conceive.
“Raised in power,” is a stunning contrast to the dead body which is sown, the epitome of weakness. We will be mighty, vigorous, capable of doing all that heaven makes possible; not merely Samson-strong but Christ-strong, with bodies unhindered, minds quick, curious, and knowing, hearts energetic with holy love and zeal.
“Raised a spiritual body.” Not ghostly, some kind of floaty phantom, but drawing our breath and life, our thoughts and strength, from the Spirit of God. David Prior explains, “The first body has all the limitations of our earthiness; the second body has all the capacity of God’s Spirit.” The “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust” sown in cemeteries, seas, and battlefields will be raised as bodies perfectly suited to the ecosystem of the new creation.
Our new bodies will be sin-free and sick-free, fit for eternal living. We will have minds unmuddled by the lies and lunacy of this world, hands that will only and ever serve the Lord, eyes wide open to the brilliant sights of heaven, ears attuned to the anthems of saints and angels, voices that will speak only praise and truth, and hearts clean enough and big enough and loving enough to embrace the glory of God. We will be outfitted for a new world free of sin, a whole civilization—a kingdom—of people like Christ, through and through.
How could Don and Terri walk in such peace in such an agonizing trial? Because of loyal trust in a God who has scars. The Son of God left the pristine world of eternity to step into a broken world that mankind has sabotaged by living for things other than the very purpose he made us for, to take on human nature with his divine nature, to walk in God’s ways on this earth, to offer rescue and reconciliation to a world that rejected him, subjecting himself to agonizing death on a Roman cross in the middle East as a Jewish peasant rabbi, but to show victory over sin and death by rising again, ascending as the one true King of the universe, promising to return again and make things right and new and perfect, and in the meantime offering eternal life with him now and after this life for our good through trust in him and in who He has declared himself to be in word and deed. He said I am the way, the truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through ME. This is the way. Turn to Jesus.
In her last days Terri had a rally as so often happen near death and she said to Don, Let’s get this show on the road, meaning, she couldn't wait any longer to be with Jesus.
What sustained her? Terri knew her position.
You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its farthest regions, And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away:
And Terri knew her provision.
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Do you? What is the sure promise that will hold you fast? Only Jesus.
She is safely home, still in his grip and in his arms like the little girl on the mountain with her Father.