Day 78: Losing a Friend

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. “All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

John 10:7-11, NKJV

 

I got a call today that I have been dreading. It was from a good friend whose daughter had been struggling with cancer for over a year. Just a few short months ago we thought that she had beat it, but it came back, and this time her frail body just couldn't fight any more and she passed from this life to the next.

 

Her name was Kaitlyn. and she was only 28 years old. I have known Kaitlyn since she was a little girl, in fact, I had the privilege of coaching her in basketball since she was barely big enough to pick one up. She never got taller than 5' 2", but she always played like she was convinced she was 7' tall. I never saw Kaitlyn play anything short of full speed. 

 

She had the heart of a champion and a spirit that wouldn't allow her to give anything less than her best.

 

I have coached hundreds of kids during the past quarter century, but few have impacted my life as did Kaitlyn. She was not only one of the best players I ever coached, but she was one of the sweetest (Not all of her opponents would agree with this assessment, as she kept that sweetness well hidden during game time). She earned her PhD as a Physical Therapist, and though she was Dr. McCarley to her patients, I always just called her "Sweet Heart". 

 

Kaitlyn and my youngest daughter were teammates since Kaitlyn was in fourth grade and my daughter was in third. Off and on, they played for the Happy Cowgirls until Kaitlyn graduated. I suppose if you count the time that Kaitlyn was going through her cancer treatments, I have been cheering and praying for Kaitlyn for about twenty years.

 

I tell you all of this to let you know that Kaitlyn was more like a daughter to me than just someone I coached, so when I got the news today that she was gone, it deeply affected me. I know that the pain of her passing will eventually fade, but it will take some time.

 

So, what has all this got to do with the Bible passage above? Just this: Satan is like cancer - he only steals and kills and destroys. There are times in life where this enemy seems to get the upper hand. If we are not careful, he will indeed destroy our lives, if we were to let him...

 

That's where Jesus comes in: He is the Good Shepherd, and He has come to give us an abundant life. It may not always be apparent during difficult times like these, but it is true. Life is hard, at times, and sometimes it just doesn't seem bearable. But it can be, if we will just take our eyes off of the one who takes life, and place them on the One who gives it.

 

This life comes with deep pain and will overwhelm us, if we let it. But, if we can remember during our darkest days that Jesus has called us to something more than these few years we have on earth, it will help us get through.

 

In all the years I watched Kaitlyn play, I don't remember once seeing her give up. Neither should we. You see, we truly do have an abundant life - here on earth, for a bit, and then through all eternity. But in order to receive this abundant life we have to remember to never take our eyes off of the Good Shepherd who came to this world that we might have life, in fact, a life more abundant than anything we could imagine...

 

if we will just take hold of Jesus! The Word of God will tell you how. In fact, this is why we read the Word - so that we might not be overwhelmed by the evil one, but instead that we might take hold of the abundant life that God so desperately wants us to enjoy.