Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)
TITLE: Are You Ready
By Virgil Youngblood
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“Becky has cancer. Please pray for her” the telephone caller said. It began a story that would change my life.
Becky was a member of our church youth department where I taught the high school boys. She was faithful and always on the back row of the choir during worship services. I remember thinking she was rather plain looking, something about her hair style seemed amiss, but she had an inner glow that you noticed.
Another telephone caller gave an update. “Becky has a tumor in the abdominal area. There is a possibility that an operation can save her life. Otherwise, the doctors say she will live about six months. But, the cancer is fast growing and the doctors need to know her decision in the next three days. After that the window closes and they will not operate.”
“Of course I will pray” I responded. “But, why is there a question about scheduling the operation.”
“It’s so terrible, I can hardly talk about it. If she has the operation that will have to amputate…” the caller sobbed uncontrollably. Finally, composing herself, she continued. “…they will have to amputate Becky from the waist down. Oh, pray for her with everything you have.”
I hung up the telephone, stunned. I could not imagine having to make that choice. To be eighteen years old, in the prime of life…God, why? If it were me, what would I do?
Becky chose not to have the operation. A Bible study on prayer was initiated by our pastor and we collectively sought God’s counsel. We prayed intensely for Becky, her parents and her brother and sister.
The only request Becky made was that God allow her to live long enough to be a bridesmaid. Twin boys were engaged to marry girls, all members of our youth department, and Becky had been asked months before to be a bridesmaid. She would have to live six months for it to happen.
As a young adult in my thirties, I had never been around anyone under a death sentence. I couldn’t help but watch Becky whenever she was near. I wondered how she was handling it. What was she thinking? I couldn’t see anything different about her. If I were in her shoes, I would be stressed out.
Then, God did something especially for me. At least, it seemed that way. I had gone to a gym across town to play in a late night church league volley ball game. When I arrived our ladies team was playing. I could scarcely believe it when I saw Becky on the court. The tumor in her abdomen made her hobble about, unable to even walk smoothly. All eyes were riveted on Becky.
When a ball was hit near her she lunged for it – and missed. You could have heard a pin drop. Everyone held their breath simultaneously. The sudden silence was shattered by the most spontaneous, uninhibited, joyful, rafter-ringing laughter I ever heard. It came from Becky. If she was under a death sentence it wasn’t apparent to me.
It was obvious Becky knew her God in a way I didn’t have a clue about mine. If God can give Becky that kind of peace, I thought, I want what Becky has. I want to know Him the way Becky does.
On a Saturday a few weeks later Becky walked haltingly down the aisle, a beautiful bridesmaid with a beautiful smile. She died the following Saturday. God honored her request. Her brother and sister were in church Sunday morning.
That was over forty years ago. Because she walked radiating her faith in Christ, at genuine peace when I would have thought it impossible, I now know what Becky knew. God will never leave us or forsake us. He is able to give a peace that passes all understanding.
You are not ready to live until you are ready to die.
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