You’re not done until you’re finished (cheering Kelly)

Categorized as Rhonda's Posts

It was May 1985. In a warm church sanctuary on a Friday night, 11 teenagers vibrated with excitement. In the pews behind them gathered family. Friends. Coworkers and bosses. Grandparents, uncles and aunts.

It was graduation day. For my 10 classmates and I, it was a milestone. A marker. A night when everything changed. Some of them were cousins. Some of them weren’t, but all of them…well, we were friends.

When the diplomas had been awarded and the receiving line depleted, we left, one by one, through those old, familiar doors. Walking into a starlit Kansas night. Walking away from our childhood. Walking into our future. Eleven souls, bound by love. Bound by history. Bound by Him.

The reunion that came some 26 years later was incredible. For hours, we sat, we nine that were there, reminiscing, updating and sharing. We laughed (a whole lot). We cried (just a little) at some of the things life had brought us.

It was a night full of stories. Of hearts reconnecting. Of marveling at where we all were. We were mothers and fathers. Secretaries and teachers. Chaplains and nurses and doctors.

We’d accomplished great things, we 11 from the plains. There’d been college and businesses and missions. But for all the success, we’d suffered; we had! And the stories they told brought the tears.

Two (two!) had buried a child. Two families marked by their losses. For another, there’d been fire with flames that devoured their home and their earthly possessions.

I’d listened that night to my girlfriend named Julie, not comprehending the scope of such loss. But that wasn’t all. For Julie continued. “The day we put shovels to ground, rebuilding our house, that was the day we found out about the cancer.”

Ah, Lord. Not for her, but her husband, the father of their four lovely children. “Melanoma,” Doc had said that all-mixed-up day. The prognosis for that? Well, I trembled.

However, she continued cheerfully, it was in remission. She was back in the classroom, he was back at his job, and they gave thanks to the Lord for sustaining.

That was two years ago. And the cancer came back. It came roaring right back with a vengeance. She would tell us about it, my cheerful friend, Julie, with updates that came through my newsfeed. The news, it was devastating, but the testimony was praise. Always, always, there was praise and thanksgiving.

Then that horrid ‘h’ word that often spells e-n-d. Hospice and pain and days numbered.

On Saturday last, dear Julie wrote these words: “My beloved Kelly is now in the arms of Jesus! He left his earthly home at 8:38 p.m. this past evening. He has no more suffering, no more cancer, no more pain. Forever with Jesus…praising Him for all eternity!”

It was three days (three days!) before he died that Kelly did something amazing. In the throes of pain, looking death in the eye, he led a coworker to Christ. Three days!

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10).”

How moved I am; how inspired at this truth. Overwhelmed by Kelly’s example. He was dying, but yet lived. While dying, bringing life. For there was still work he could do.

This morning, I’m clapping! I’m applauding my friend for her courage and her cheer and her faith walk. I’m clapping, too, for her husband; her Kelly, who, though dying, didn’t quit until he was finished.

And now, you and I. We, too, have good works ordained in advance for our doing. We’re living, us here, and while we have breath, there’s much life and love we’ve got to offer.

So don’t quit though it’s hard. Don’t you quit ’cause it’s painful. You walk and you keep right on walking. Spreading joy. Spreading love. Shedding life. Showing Him! All the way until we are finished.

Press in!

P.S. – It gives me inexpressible joy; such utter delight to report that of the 11 graduates that warm Friday night, all 11 are walking with Jesus. We are walking, yes, and ministering Him, giving cups of cold water in the cities and towns where He’s placed us. Oh, glory! All glory to Him.


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