Oct 17, 2012

Unpacking my Bethany Brown Experience

Sometimes the unfolding of a story makes sense.  Perhaps its packaged in a linear form and logically moves from one step to the next in a flawless flow.  This is not that story.

The Lord is gently guiding me through the pieces of an experience that I recently had, and though my part in the story was brief it was significant for me, and the bigger story eternally significant for many others.  In my case, the Lord is slowly pulling the petals of the flower back, and what is to be revealed in the juicy center  I am certain will be His glory.  Already the sweet aroma of Christ penetrates the air, and with the pulling back of the petals the sweetness grows.

There's a page in the worn little notebook in my purse.  On this page are phrases that the Lord has given to me over the last little while, and as He leads me I will tackle each one . . .  a petal pulled back.

Before the petals begin to lean backwards in search of what the Lord wants to do with them, perhaps a glimpse of the whole would be helpful.

I knew this girl but not very well and not for very long.  I entered her life in it's last chapter, though this was not revealed until later, and I was with her on the last day of her life, though I didn't know it.  I was with her shortly after she died and when her body was taken to the pathology lab, her last earthly destination.

I missed the middle part of her story in the Dominican Republic, because we were gone to the U.S. for 6 weeks right after she arrived to serve here.  But the moments I had with her are some of the petals, and as the Lord leads I hope to be His instrument in telling the testimony of an incredible woman of God, and how the Lord is showing me His limitless love out of my limited experience with one of His beloved children, Bethany Brown.

While the story unravels from my point of view,  none of it is meant to be about me.    And honestly, knowing the little that I know, Bethany would not want the story to be about her either, though she was the conduit of His love, His grace and His gospel in this story.

Sometimes there are hidden treasures tucked beneath a story,  revealed in hindsight, after the fact.  From this perspective, big chunks of Bethany's story were revealed after her passing.  She had a disease called diffuse scleroderma.  She had been given a life expectancy.  She was gluten intolerant.  She was generally in pain, more susceptible to sickness because of her immune system YET within the last 6 months of her life, she moved to a third world country, climbed the highest peak in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, learned to ride a motorcycle and owned one, ate whatever everyone else ate, and carried on living life to the fullest, all the while none of us around her in our community in the D.R. really knowing what she was dealing with.

Sure, we knew pieces - she had to have regular blood work, she had a skin condition, her immune system was low, her stomach was generally upset - but she didn't really talk about any of this much. (Maybe she didn't want us to treat her differently?  Maybe she didn't want to be perceived as weak?  Maybe she didn't want to cause extra effort for those around her?) She punked us by not letting us know fully what she was dealing with, but this was her choice.

In the case of Bethany, I am sure that her life, most of it lived prior to her arrival in the Dominican, was lived with ordinary awesomeness.  Yet, I wouldn't describe her as ordinary, would you?  What I mean is that she took advantage of ordinary moments and applied the zeal of a lover of Christ to them.  As her father reported upon hearing the news of her death, "Us Browns don't do anything normal."
 But the fact that she walked her last days on earth with stubborn determination to live for the Lord, to share His love with others, to serve Him on the mission field - this WAS her normal, to not let ANYTHING hinder her from living for Him.  Shouldn't we, whether healthy or infirm, live with the same stubborn determination to worship our Savior with all that we are?  Selah (think on this).  

Bethany's Fist Pump for Jesus!
This was taken about a month before her entrance into heaven.
She blocked our vehicle and gave a few victorious fist pumps.
I wonder if she realized how much glory her life and death would bring the Lord?
  In posts to follow, I will continue to unpack my Bethany Brown experience because as Bethany's sister, Sarah, would say, "Bethany's work has to continue.  It can't stop because she is gone."  And really, it is the Lord's work in her life and even in her death that continues to make an impact.  I am humbled to have experienced a little but mighty portion of His touch radiating from His glory in her.  More unpacking to follow soon . . .                                                                                                      

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