Bethany's siblings told stories of a sister who always had post-it notes of scripture on her wall, who would gather them together to "pray for them" when they were fighting and/or would tell the person that she was engaged in a quarrel with that she was going to go to her room and pray for them (and she meant it in both cases!) Her brother told of his conversion to Christ earlier in the year, which Bethany had prayed about for a long time, and how after a long time of her praying for him, that he was able to return the favor and pray for her prior to her coming to the D.R.
Her parents spoke about her three main goals 1) to be a missionary (check) 2) to ride a motorcycle (check) and 3) to marry a godly Christian man. Her father was choked up at the third one because he said at first glance he was sad that she didn't get to accomplish her third goal. However, he said after thinking about it, he realized how high of standards Bethany had for a husband, and he admitted that he didn't think that there was a man alive that could meet her high expectations. Teary eyed, he said that he realized that when Bethany went to be with the Lord, that her third goal, in fact, had been reached because Jesus was the only one for her. Check.
CMA and Bethany's family grieved side by the side about the earthly loss of Bethany's vivacious presence on this earth. There were many tears, but most of what was expressed by her family was an overwhelming JOY. Yet we know that there is a deep sadness, but it pales in comparison to the JOY of knowing that she is now with the only perfect man in a place where there is no tears or sadness or infirmities, as we have been promised in God's word.
"I saw Heaven and earth new-created. Gone the first Heaven, gone the first earth, gone the sea.
I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband.
I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.” Revelation 21: 1-5 the message)
You know what the Brown family taught me? That it is both possible and a beautiful display of Christ at work in us to be able to express such grief with such grace. Thank you, Brown family, for offering up such an authentic example of Christ in you, hope of glory! (To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27)