Saturday, December 21, 2013
Rays of Sunshine Through Clouds of Gray: Remembering the Legacy of Sadie Davis
One year ago this day, I received a text from one of our elders at The Journey Church that caused my heart to sink in my chest. "Sadie went to be with the Lord" were the words that met my eyes. The text had been sent by her father, Tim Davis. I was devastated. She had been fighting a rare form of leukemia for nearly two months. She had undergone surgeries and chemotherapy and was battling against this sudden and unexpected diagnosis. The church had rallied behind Sadie. The community had rallied around Sadie. Folks from around the country and world were hearing about this girl. And just like that, she was gone.
I told my wife and children and we all cried together. We sat down and prayed for Tim and Amber and the entire Davis family. Through sobs of sorrow we petitioned the Lord to be gracious to the family and comfort them with supernatural comfort. I then prepared to go to the hospital to be with the family.
The ride there was a blur. I was crying, praying, collecting my thoughts, and driving down I-40 in a daze, zoned out as I looked forward. When I arrived at the hospital, I went to the floor where Sadie had been and upon coming out of the elevators I ran into Amber, her father, and her step-mother. We all embraced and began to cry. They had all their belongings that had collected over time during the stay loaded up on a cart and were taking it out to the car. It was time to go home.
We reached the floor that leads you out of the hospital and we stayed there to wait for Tim. Tim had personally carried his daughter's body to the hospital morgue. My heart ached and mourned. We finally saw Tim coming up the hallway, a man to be most pitied, yet walking with a strange sort of faith and strength, though he probably did not recognize it. When he reached us, he and I embraced and sobbed together. As a father of two daughters, one daughter at the time, I could not imagine what this man was going through and feeling. The arms of this man around my shoulders were just moments ago carrying his diseased daughter. I had no words. Only tears. My heart was in a million pieces.
We all grabbed hands in the middle of the crowded and busy hospital lobby and prayed. I don't remember any of the words spoken, just some mumblings and groans and sobs, it was the closest thing I had ever experienced to Romans 8:26 "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."
The coming days would be difficult for everyone, but most especially for the Davis family. They quickly made the funeral arrangements and began to share those details out. The flood of support and love being shown to them was amazing. People were not just mourning for the Davis', but with them. Sadie's life and battle had left an effect on many people. The Davis' faith and courage throughout the entire process had resonated with countless thousands who were observing it through personal interaction, social media avenues, and blogs.
When the funeral visitation arrived, me and a few other Journey pastors and leaders arrived before the public would be able to visit. We joined the Davis family in the viewing room after giving them some time together as a family. We then gathered and prayed together. We asked the Lord to give the Davis' strength and courage to endure the embraces, memories, and sadness. That night was amazing. I do not know the final count of visitors, but the line was out of the door the entire evening as hour after hour passed, and the line was unrelenting. A flood of love and support had come rushing in to remember Sadie and embrace the Davis'.
The funeral was held at The Journey Church in Lebanon. We all knew it would be a difficult day. The visitation prior to the service was, once again, lined out the door with people. Pastors from other churches, people who had never met the Davis', and many friends and acquaintances showed up to pay their respects. When time for the service arrived, the place was absolutely packed. There was not an empty seat in the building. The parking lot and field across the street were filled with cars. The livestream broadcast we were providing had over 300 people who were watching from around the country. It was a sight to see.
The service was absolutely amazing. There were video slideshows, special songs, friends who shared words of encouragements, worship, and perhaps the most amazing part, Tim Davis' eulogy for his daughter. Oh friends, if I heard a million more sermons, eulogies, and speeches in my lifetime, none would surpass what was spoken that day. To witness a man stand with such courage, grace, wisdom, sorrow, and faith was a sight to behold. I felt as though I were seeing an act of God up close and personal.
He spoke about a night, the last where Sadie would still be able to walk and have energy to play. That night they played trains, did the hotdog dance, had a tea party, she rode in the play car, and they strolled the halls. Tim said he will always remember that night. That night, he took a lifetime of rides with his daughter, a lifetime of tea parties, a lifetime of walks together, he even danced at his daughter's wedding. The place melted. I still melt, even as I write it.
Lessons to be Remembered
All of these things I have described happened a year ago today. Ms. Sadie Caroline Davis went to be with the Lord. Her life of sixteen months has made more of a difference than many who will live to be seventy. But as we remember Little Sadiebug, I believe there are still important lessons for us to keep in focus. Her life and the Davis family have provided us with some incredible truths to ponder on, so I want to share them for us to consider.
1. Life can change forever in an instant
We all know this in our minds, but we do not actually live like this. We know that it can happen, but we do not live like it will happen. Sadie's life and death is a reminder that things in this life can and will happen. The Bible says our life is like a mist, here in the morning and then gone (James 4:14). We should cherish both the life we have and the life of our loved ones. We are not promised a certain number of years. We do not have the security of always having our loved ones around. Things can change from the normal in the blink of an eye. It did for the Davis family, and things have never been the same. Let this reminder cause you to mend broken or damaged relationships. Let this stir you to express your feelings to loved ones that perhaps you have a hard time sharing them with. Let this cause you to hug your children a little tighter or kiss your spouse a little longer. Say "I love you" often and cherish those God has given you.
2. God is sovereign over our lives and He is good
I spoke about this point at Sadie's funeral. We must not see Sadie's life as being tragically cut short. Her life was not cut short. She lived the number of days the Lord so decreed from the beginning (Psalm 139:16). She did not live one less day than she should have, and she did not live one day more. Sadie's life has always been a part of the sovereign plan of God. This was not a wasted life, nor a senseless loss. Yes, we mourn her loss. And we do so rightfully. But we do not mourn as those who are without hope, for we know it is our God who reigns. He reigns over the life of Sadie and everyone else.
Our God is sovereign and rules over all things, and He is good. God not only rules, but He does so out of His goodness. Yes, there will be things that hurt in this life. Yes, there will be trials and tribulations, but God is sovereign over those trials, and according to Scripture, uses them for our good (Romans 8:28). Would the Davis' love to have Sadie back? Yes, absolutely. But they also rest peacefully knowing that Sadie's life has always belonged to God. God was Sadie's Creator. He had rights over her life, to accomplish His purposes. We do not always see what those purposes are, nor do we have to, but we know from Scripture that neither her life nor death were senseless, they were a part of the sovereign plan of a good God from the foundation of the world.
3. These present sufferings should point our eyes to future glory
I also spoke about this at the funeral. Nothing in this life has ever caused me to long for heaven and the return of Christ like Sadie's death. It was through her death that God sealed in my heart the reality that believers are not to cling to this life, but to long for Christ's coming and for the City of God to be established for eternity. The City of God is our eternal dwelling place with God. In glory there will be no more tears, no more death, no more cancer; God will wipe away every tear and we will reign with Him forever. We must remember that as we live presently on this earth. We were made for heaven. We were made to be with God forever. Earth is not our home. We are merely sojourners, passing through. Yes, we have work to accomplish here, but we are citizens of heaven, through Christ.
In this life we will experience troubles. Jesus told us to expect this. Be also told us to take heart for he had overcome the world (John 16:33). Paul reminds us in Romans 8:18 that these present sufferings are not worth comparing to the eternal weight of glory awaiting us in heaven. Paul reminds believers that the sufferings on this earth are real, but the troubles and hurts, do not measure against the glory of heaven. One day we will see with perfect vision just how small our trials were, compared to all-surpassing glory to be our inheritance in heaven. Believers in this life must live with our eyes on the city of God. It is how we fight through the trials we face today.
4. Our God is the God of all comfort and He is faithful
One thing that I have witnessed first-hand in the life of the Davis family is that God is faithful. God, by His grace, has kept this family in tact. He has supplied them with the graces needed to carry on each day. He has provided for them the strength to keep standing in days of sorrow. God has been faithful. He has comforted this family with a comfort that only He can provide. We should expect this, for the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 1 that our God is the God of all comfort who comforts His people in their afflictions. Yes He does! Sometimes His hand is undetected, but it is there. He caresses, embraces, pats, and grips with His comforting hands. He upholds His children in their afflictions.
Whatever you may be facing today in your life, stand firm on this: our God is a comforting God and He's faithful. He will not leave you nor forsake you through your trial. He is there. He provides rays of sunshine through clouds of gray. He is faithful to do this, not once or twice, but continuously for His children. Lean on Him today, friends. Those who mourn Sadie's loss today, rest in the God of all comfort. Seek the One who promises to give sufficient grace in the hour of need (2 Corinthians 12:9). He will meet you in your suffering and He will carry you through it.
One year later, I still cannot believe that little blue-eyed beauty is gone. My heart aches today for Tim and Amber and family. Nobody can ever understand what their daily life must be like, the ebbs and flows of emotions that come. The nights of waking up, only to be unable to return to sleep. This family has been through so much. Let's pray for them today. Let's ask God to continue providing comfort to this family. Let's thank God for the gift of Sadie. She was a gift to our own lives. For God has providentially used her life to teach us more powerful lessons than a 30 minute sermon can provide. Her life is still speaking. The lessons are still being taught. God has and is still being glorified in this precious child's life. One year after her passing, we still have much to say when it comes to the legacy of Sadie Davis.
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