Around the corner she came, her curls bouncing and her tutu announcing that Wyndy was here, at the finish line, a runner who had reached her goal. We yelled and cheered for her: her husband, my husband, mutual friends, and the others who were waiting for their own people to come down the stretch. It was October of 2012, and races were new and special for special for all of us. And while runners certainly cherish every finish line, no one did so more than Wyndy.
Wyndy’s sparkly personality drew me in from the beginning. A tiny thing, she nearly knocked me down to meet me in person after mutual friends had told us we’d have a lot to talk about—both picking up running later in life and sharing an equal enthusiasm for the sport, for people, and for God. I had my own difficulties with running—serious scoliosis has always been both a motivation and an obstacle for my athletic goals. But she was the true conqueror. Despite a congenital heart defect, for years she banged out miles and inspired me and others with her “Run. Lift. Core.” Facebook check-ins.
But Wyndy was about so much more than fitness. Fine fare, travel, social media—she used them all for good—to show others what a dedication to God and a genuine zest for living looked like on a daily basis. She used her love of food to serve others who needed a meal. She made time to see old friends when she traveled, and she regularly asked via Facebook, “How can I pray for you today?” She was the type who would do it, too—because she knew the power her Father holds, and wanted to tap into it on behalf of those in her circle who need it.
So when the heart defect suddenly worsened, when the doctors said, “It’s time,” she didn’t shy away from saying she was both scared and ready. Ready for the surgery, ready to go Home, or ready to stay and serve. As she was released from the hospital after open-heart surgery she remained her same plucky self. She posted a picture of her smiling big in the discharge area, publicly praising God for seeing her through. Smiling and ready to recover, she clearly looked forward to going back to life, post-crisis.
We all breathed a sigh of relief that her heart would heal, and our own hearts were stilled that our friend--this beloved wife, mother, mother-in-law, sister and example would live to cook more, quilt more, and live more. And so when, four days later, she died suddenly at home, it was a particularly hard gut-punch.
A light has gone out. A gorgeous, bright, firecracker of a light is gone, and this loss is hard. Even in the far outer rings of friendship where I stand, it is hard. Though we all know where she is—with He who held her figurative and literal heart, this is the kind of death that reminds us all of how broken this world is.
For now, we somehow, in that way that only our great God could come up with, both weep and rejoice as we realize she got to go on first (Romans 12:15). But beyond that, in the coming days and weeks and months, no doubt we will feel the punch again and ask, “What would she have us do?” I suspect she would want us to live more, love more, serve more—like she did. But I think the more important question is—what would God have us to do?
And the wonderful thing, the true testament to her is this: because of her pursuit of Godliness-the answers are much the same. Take care of our soul and our body, knowing that one will live on eternally but the other is an important house while here on earth (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Help others with genuine, specific prayer (James 5:16) and also with physical service in times of need (Prov. 3:27). Enjoy the bounteous food God has given us and take in this marvelous world He created, all with a heart of gratitude (Col. 3:17). Love your people and steward the relationships we are given (Gal. 6:10). Be both ready to stay and serve in this hard, hard world, and be ready to go and be in the presence of God forever (James 1:12).
I’ll miss my spunky, tutu-ed runner friend, all curls and smiles and excitement at the finish line. So will so many other people, and how deeply. But in the race that matters, she got there first, and has gone on to the real reward. I have to celebrate that. I can’t let the sadness of death—hers or others—deter me from doing right. Now that she has gone on, I resolve again, as I have to every day, to keep going in the same direction. And I can’t wait to embrace her, as runners at the finish line do, when I get there too.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 2 Tim. 4:7-8
Encouragement Spoken Here
"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." Proverbs 25:11