Monday, March 23, 2015

A Remembrance ~ Reflections on the Passing of a Great Woman of Faith - Kara Tippetts

Last night, incredibly sad and unsettled after hearing of the death of Kara Tippets I picked up my journal to write through my jumbled thoughts and jarred emotions.  As I wrote, some clarity came to me about what I was feeling.  I'm sharing them here with you.

A Response to Feelings of Grief

At first, I felt I was just incredibly sad when I heard of Kara’s passing.  After all, I didn’t really know her; I’d only met her once.  I only knew her through her writing.  Despite this fact, I doubt if I’ve ever been as deeply moved by one’s writing as I have been by the words that flowed from Kara’s heart and soul onto the medium she first used which was her blog Mundane Faithfulness.  I bought her book, The Hardest Peace, and knew immediately I was reading the work of a dear saint, one born the same year as my daughter, one whom could speak to her generation and to mine with an authentic voice like one we seldom hear today.  Her voice, though representative a young woman from her generation, was also timeless.  When she “went home to be with Jesus after a long battle with breast cancer,” I was not shocked by her passing.  I knew it could come at any time.  Reading on Facebook that she had left us, I wanted to sit and feel the feelings and think the thoughts that I knew I would feel at her death, but I pressed on with my evening.  I read posts about her on Facebook.  I looked at her beautiful face on a picture that was posted.  I tried to read, then I finally picked up my journal and wrote.  

I know grief must be experienced for one to heal, but quite frankly, I didn’t want to grieve.  I didn’t want to go there.  I wrote in my journal, I have not completely allowed myself to feel the sorrow welling up inside because grief just doesn’t seem to be something I want to experience right now.  Grieving is hard work and it drains.  I’m already drained, so I’ll compose myself while my heart skips beats and bottle up my sorrow.  I’ll cry tomorrow - when I’m not so tired, so drained, when I can work grieving into that schedule that I don’t even have.  

Sometimes, grief is too hard, and sometimes we fear going to that place of feeling grief.  It can be very overwhelming.  Let’s face it.  I just didn’t want to go there.  Yet, I knew I need to feel a sense of acceptance about the passing of one I loved dearly and allow grief to do its work of healing in my heart and soul.
Why Was Kara So Loved by So Many?

She Was A Prodigal Saved by Grace

I, like thousands of others, loved Kara Tippetts.  She lived just blocks from my home, was a part of my church denomination, and I almost attended the church she and her husband were planting.  She was a very close friend of one of my dearest nieces.  When I wrote a blog post (Click to read the post) about Kara in January, I had over 11, 800 hits to my blog post in one day.  I was astounded by the numbers.  She literally had thousands of followers on her blog.

Kara & Cristy
Kara & Cristy at Kara's home, recent photo of Kara & Cristy, Cristy ministering to Kara by rubbing her feet with essential oils during chemotherapy to help prevent nausea.

I think that her readers loved Kara because her authenticity.  There was nothing opaque about Kara.  She was transparent in her brokenness, her struggle to find grace in the midst of her “hard.”  Her most cynical reader was wooed by her genuine acknowledgement that she endeavored to love the life she had with a grace that came from some source beyond Kara herself.  She drew the unbeliever in Christ or the one disappointed by life to her own dear heart which was owned by Jesus because she never preached or judged.  Instead, she pointed to the One that gave her the Grace to tell her story to whomever would read it.

I think Kara drew us because she was, like the rest of us, a prodigal.  She had once been very far from God.  She had been the flippant young teenager whom liked to party.  She drank, she used pot, she was rebellious.  She stood out in a crowd because of her stunning looks and personality.  I think there was always an authenticity to her even as a young rebellious teenager, and as a young believer in Christ.    When she heard about Jesus, she saw herself as she was: a sinner.  She turned and walked a new walk; one with Jesus pointing the way. She didn’t try to fit herself into some mold.  

She was humble.  She never tried to use good works to get to God.  No, not her.  She saw her sin and accepted God’s grace for it.  From then on, she sought grace with an expectant heart.  She was by her own words messy, broken, and in need of love and acceptance.  She found that in Jesus.  She never forgot her daily need for grace.

She Loved Life and Didn’t Want to Leave Her Loves

I can only imagine how Kara must have grieved over leaving Jason and her children and the work she and Jason had been called to do.  I think that is one reason I am so sad.  She wrote of how she loved just touching her feet against her husband’s feet while she was in bed.  She was young.  She should have had many more years of marital pleasure and companionship.  She was her husband’s perfect helpmate.  Why should he lose his vibrant, beautiful wife?

Then there is the matter of her littles - her loves, her four young children.  As I wrote this, I could not stop the tears.  My heart breaks for them.  As I thought about their loss, I want to shout the question, “Really, God?" 

We Are Not People of Despair
We Are People of Hope

As a Christian, I have questioned God before.  He can handle my questions, my doubts, my unbelief.  When my head has questions, I am grateful to know that deep in my soul, in my heart, in that place where God’s spirit speaks to mine, I have never doubted God and His Word.  I know beyond any shadow of doubt that my God is Sovereign. That belief has always given me comfort.  It has sustained me through everything I have experienced in my life.  My faith rests in a Sovereign God and His will for my life and for the lives of those I love.  

We, as Christians, are not a despairing people even as we look at the realities of life in this broken world in which we live, even when we lose a daughter to suicide, even when we lose a young mother to cancer.  We do not despair.  We are a people of hope.  We hope in the promises of God which were fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus our Savior.  He is our Hope.  He is our Salvation.  When we come to Him knowing we are totally undone and lost without Him, He forgives our human failings and gives us love and acceptance.

Yesterday, in church, our pastor preached on the “grace of prayer.”  He said that most of us live our lives as practical atheists.  Sadly, he is right.  He made his point by saying, As Christians, many of us go through life as if we believed “Apart from God we can do most things,” rather than living a life that gives witness to our expressed belief that “Apart from God we can do nothing.”  

Kara, a prodigal saved by grace, lived her life fully demonstrating her belief in a Sovereign God upon Whom she was utterly dependent.  We loved her because she was faithful to trust in Jesus for the mundane.  Because of her faith, He in turn trusted her to do a mighty work in the lives of others. 
He broke her body and fed the multitudes with her words of praise for Jesus, the one that gave her grace in her brokenness.  Many were hungry for this message of hope, of grace, of peace, of trusting Jesus even in the hardest places of life.  Many tasted of the goodness of God while reading of the hard God was taking her through.  She wrote words that conveyed her life’s message:  Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8 ESV)

Yesterday, on March 22, 2015, this dear one, Kara Tippetts, stepped out of this world and entered heaven.  I can just see her taking heaven by storm.  Her tears have already been wiped away by Jesus.  Her purpose on this life is complete, but she leaves such a great legacy of faith.  She has been claimed, her life redeemed, and she has been healed.  May it be so for all who loved her and took her words to heart.  May they also come to know the Jesus she loved.
Below, is a documentary trailer about her journey of faith. 

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