Last night I went to a memorial service for the beautiful, Leah Sanchez, sister of my pastor, Frank Sanchez (and sister-in-law to Lela, and Auntie "Woods" to the Sanchez little ones). Leah was only 25 years old when she passed on July 24th, 2009, and her (earthly) death was very unexpected.
When I received word that Leah was sick, I didn't think her condition would become so serious. And even when her condition became critical, I never, ever, thought that the Lord would take her. I work in the critical care unit 3 times a week, and I watch numerous people recover, so needless to say, I was very shocked to hear that she had passed, in such a short amount of time. If you are wondering about Leah's cause of death, I don't want to say here on my own blog, because everything I know comes from Frank's blog, so I will just lead you there by clicking here.
I mourned with the Sanchez family (from a distance) in my own home, car, and workplace, as I knew what pain they must have been feeling during that time. Well, I didn't really "know" that pain, but I knew it must have been unbearable. I watched on facebook, and on Frank and Lela's blog, as the support came flooding in, and was so encouraged by the strength the Sanchez family had showed.
Monday night was the memorial service for Leah, and it was truly a wonderful experience. At the beginning of the night, the (very talented) Sanchez family (like, a lot of Sanchez's were on that stage...), arose to lead us all in a song. Even Leah's dad played the bass. They sang, "When the Tears Fall", by Tim Hughes, and gosh were my tears were a falling. The beautiful sound of the harmonies of voices and instruments flooded the huge auditorium, as we took time to say, "Yes Lord, we mourn, but we don't mourn like those with no hope... and so, we still praise You."
They took time for special people in Leah's life to remember her with words and memories. Stories from friends and family about how Leah was expected to be the fourth boy in the family, and when she came out a girl, the three older brothers didn't know want to do! Memories were shared about her love for children, and her kind and patient heart. Even little seven-year-old Renee Sanchez got up to talk about her Auntie "Woods", remembering that when she came over to babysit once a month, Renee was able to wake her up early in the morning, just to spend more time with her. It was really amazing to hear more about Leah.
Finally, Frank preached it up, and ended up giving an invitation to accept Christ. Earlier in the day, at the burial site, there were many people who gave their lives to the Lord, and four more followed suit on the night of the memorial. The Sanchez family closed with another song, and then spontaneously began singing "Mighty to Save". It was such a special moment as the crowd arose, and people were praising God all over the place. Frank blogs that this was his favorite moment of the night, and I had a feeling it would be, so I was happy that I snapped a picture! I had a feeling they might want to see it, but if not, I wanted it to remember that I would want my funeral to be like Leah's.
When I left Redlands, and headed home, I began to play my Hillsong album in my car, and the tears started flowing again. Flowing because I was, and still am, very sad that Leah had to be taken at such a young age, and so suddenly. But they were also a flowing because I was able to put my life in a little more perspective.
On Thursday I am turning 26.
Nooooooo! I am getting old. Like really really old. It really scares me sometimes. But I began to think, ok, really, I am not old. I am not old, but God could choose to take me home at ANY time.
Am I ready to be taken by the Lord? What will people say about ME, if I were die suddenly... out of nowhere. No time to be that person who fights courageously through cancer, or other dieases... just.suddenly.gone. What.will.people.say...?
Leah's death has brought many to the Lord for the first time, but it has also brought many of us believers closer to the Lord. As I am sure the Sanchez family is hanging on tightly, little do they know the impact, of remembering Leah, would have on many people (I'm sure), but definitely myself.
Why would God choose to keep ME around, but take a beautiful person like Leah? This is just craziness to my mind, and I don't know the answer to this question. But, what I do know is that whenever my time comes, I hope that people will be able to get up on the stage, and remember me in ways that Leah was remembered - loving, generous, serving, sacrificial, joyful... and most important, a woman who was solely after God's heart.
////Maybe you're reading this and you really are not ready for death, because you don't know Jesus Christ as your personal saviour. Many people think that God is just a "crutch" for people to lean on because they are scared of death. Well if there are people like that, then trust me, they don't lean on long after a death. The Sanchez family will mourn. They will be very sad, and at times, they probably will be a little upset with God. I was even kind of upset with God about this one. But when you truly know God, then you will truly have a peace, from God, to get you through those times. Being a Christian isn't all daisies and roses, and it definitely doesn't make your life any "easier". Becoming a Christian is all about finding that relationship with your creator that you were destined to have. It's about knowing God, and having the gift of living in His care forever and ever.
Leah is in heaven now with God; we are confident of that. Have you ever thought about where you would go today, if you were to die? You can ask God right NOW to come into your life. You don't have to be in a church to ask this from God. If you would like to ask God to come into your life, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org./////////