I am so glad that I decided to go to church today. The yucky, snowy wind almost kept me home, but I would have missed a very powerful message. It actually had me in tears by the end, which is VERY rare for me.
We have been going through a really awesome series called, "Think Again- Truth, Doubt and Questions that Matter" with this week focusing on the question of whether there is life after death. It really made me think about how I view this life and how I should be living with the view that THIS IS NOT IT. This is not all of it. In fact, this is the hard part. Once we die and move one with Jesus in our heart, we get to experience joy like we can't even imagine.
My church experienced the death of a young man, 20, last weekend due to a climbing accident. They showed a couple clips from his memorial service that were so eloquent and heartfelt that a million memories of my dear friend, Erica Nicole Smith, who died in December '07, came flooding back to me. And thus released my tears. She died as a result of a drunk driving accident and negligent paramedics. (http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=4019050&page=1#.T4tAHRzQIfs) It was a horrific, tragic, horrible thing that happened to an amazing girl. It was a long 4 years before Jenny Ybarra, the woman responsible for the accident went to trial and it seemed like it dragged on forever before she was convicted of intoxication manslaughter. But then another devastating blow came to those who were so invested in seeing justice served; she only received a 2 year prison sentence. (http://www.kens5.com/home/Ybarras-fate-still-in-question-at-conviction-139391318.html)
I needed to hear the words of the pastor to really remember that although we do not feel as though justice has been served for Erica, there is a higher power that will bring justice.
I miss Erica all the time and she is on my mind often. I absolutely do not think it is a coincidence that she was in her car accident exactly one year before my Kaitlyn was born. She was a beautiful, hilarious, passionate, wonderful person who is missed by so many who believe that she died early. That she died an untimely death. But something else that our guest pastor said struck a cord with me. When he was speaking of the young man, Ryan, he said, "He didn't die an early death. He died a young death, yes, but it wasn't early. He ran the race that God sent him to run. He finished his race faster than we would have wished, but it was what God had intended." It breaks me heart to know that Erica will never finish college, get married, or have kids. But it also makes my heart so incredibly happy to know that she is exactly where Jesus wants her to be. She is dancing in heaven. And I have faith that one day I will get to see her again. I love you, Erica.