by Jeff Keaton
Last week we had the heartbreaking task of laying my beautiful 24-year-old niece, Shy, to rest. There is no doubt that it was never in God’s original plan for a family to have to walk through this dark valley. From the moment we received the text that she had been killed in a car wreck, to the moment we placed her in the grave, our heads were spinning as we tried to make sense of this tragic experience. As I watched her precious mother sing “You are my Sunshy” to her one final time before they closed the casket, my heart cried out, “This is not right; this is not the way it’s supposed to be!”
As I have now had a few days to reflect on this terrible loss, I have come to the following conclusions.
1. The effects of the fall are greater than we can even imagine. It’s only in such a tragic time that we really begin to feel the weight of sin’s cost. When sin entered the world as a result of Adam and Eve’s rebellion, they had no idea the devastation it would bring. Death, car wrecks, caskets, graves, broken-hearted mommas, none of these had to be. But sin and Satan produce them all. God created a world without death, disease, or destruction, but Satan has twisted, perverted, and counterfeited God’s beautiful world. He has done this through the willing hearts of human beings.
2. In spite of the effects of the fall, redemption, goodness, and beauty are still available in this world. You see, Shy had experienced some of the worst Satan had to offer. She had fallen prey to a life of drugs and rebellion. But, in the last couple of years, Jesus placed within her a great desire to know Him and be clean from her life of sin. Over the last year, Jesus set her free from the power of opioid addiction and gave her a passion to know and serve Him. Shy wrote her story in more than 20 journals. Her story of deliverance has already resulted in the salvation of multiple individuals.
3. One final conclusion that has come to my mind over the last few days is, Heaven is real and getting sweeter every day. Our family has grieved at a very deep level over the last few days. However, the one thing that has given us hope in these dark hours is the fact that we know Shy is more than okay in the presence of Jesus, and we will see her again. Today, none of our family members care about Shy’s bank account, level of education, what kind of job she had, etc. We are all just thrilled that she had come to know Jesus before she died. Over the last nine months, Shy had moved in with our parents. Mom and dad invested countless hours loving her, studying the Bible with her, and helping her get on her feet. Today, they are so grateful they had this opportunity.
Let me close by challenging all of you as parents and grandparents to invest whatever it takes to see your children and grandchildren come to know, love, and serve Jesus. For, in the end, that’s really all that matters.