By Toni Ford
This past week, I had the honor of speaking at a celebration of life service for one of our students. Carlie passed away last week in a tragic car accident, which was a shock to us all. She was a beautiful young lady, and although she was only on this earth a short 23 years, she had a great impact on numerous lives. As each day passes, we continue to hear from more and more people about how Carlie’s life affected and impacted their own lives.
As I prepared to speak at Carlie’s service, I was thinking of a scripture to share that described Carlie and the way in which she lived her life. There were so many scriptures that came to mind, but one passage in Hebrews stood out above all the others.
Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people, then you won’t become weary and give up.”
This scripture not only described the life Carlie lived but challenged me in my own walk in life. Here is why:
Living a life of faith. Carlie did just this. Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Even in the midst of cancer, scoliosis and addiction issues, Carlie never stopped believing but instead always remained confident that God would and could set her free. This past June, when Carlie and I met for coffee, I listened to all the Lord was doing in Carlie’s life and realized this hope of being set free from so many things that had bogged her down for so long, was beginning to come off and Carlie was truly being set free! Today, if I were to rewrite the Heroes of Faith chapter from Hebrews 11, Carlie would be a part of that chapter. She never quit believing in God but instead stood firm in her faith towards Him and all that He would do in her life. Now, Carlie stands with that huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith and looks down encouraging each of us to live a life of faith, trusting in the only God that can save and change our lives.
Removing and running. Carlie was willing to remove off every weight or sin that slowed her down and she ran with endurance the race God set before her. In the last few months Carlie and I spent together, I have never been around someone that was so passionate about Jesus. Every Tuesday and Thursday when she came to class, she could not wait to find me and share what the Lord had been speaking to her and the visions He had given her in her sleep. She was in all-out pursuit of Jesus, her eyes were set on Him and nothing was going to hold her back. Watching Carlie day in and day going after Jesus was a great reminder to me to “remove and run.”
The final lap. Hebrews tells us that Jesus is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne and He serves as our mediator day and night. He is there and ready to welcome home, all those who have put their faith in Him. Carlie ran her final lap last Tuesday, and as I stood beside her bed, I was able to say to her, the very thing I long for others to say about me one day. With no hesitation, I was able to say to Carlie, “Carlie, you did well and Jesus is so proud of you and I know without a doubt, He just stood up to welcome you home and say, ‘Well done my beautiful daughter, and welcome home.”
Dear Lord, thank you for Carlie’s life and the example that she was and will continue to be to so many people. Please help me to live a life full of faith in you, with a willingness to remove anything that hinders me from running towards you, and may I daily keep my eyes on Jesus so that I, too, can hear You say one day, “Well done.”
If you would like me to join you in prayer please email me at email@example.com. I would love to pray for you!