Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Magnificent Obsession

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a holiday to remember those who sacrificed their lives for our country. My entry tonight, from December 23, 2009, is about a lady whose life was a memorial.

Three days ago, I was blessed to attend the memorial service for Connie Radford in Trinity, Texas. Connie, a retired school teacher, had passed away a week previously after a brave fight with cancer. Truthfully, I didn't know her well, just making her acquaintance in the past two years. But Connie, in funding my mission trip to China before we even met, gave me an unbelievable gift, light years beyond my ability to repay. My meager attempts, with pictures, a wall hanging, and one of my books, did not scratch the surface of my indebtedness. What mattered to Connie was that she saw her act as extending the borders of the kingdom of God and that even though she never made the trip herself, she walked the streets of Shenyang in my running shoes and saw the scenes through the lens of the Canon camera she funded. That was payment in full for Connie.

One thing that struck me as I listened to the service is that at funerals, we realize how little we knew about the one who has gone on. As Connie's fellow teachers and relatives spoke, I learned how funny and hard-nosed she was. I found out Connie was an avid camper and a tremendous cook. I discovered she was a brilliant artist and technological guru. And, by the size of the crowd in a small Texas town, I knew without doubt that she was deeply loved. I could not see all that at the level I knew Connie. I talked with her at Bible study and I visited her in the nursing home. It was obvious from her friends' revelations that Connie was a person of multi-layered existences. It was my loss that I only observed the outer bands of her life.

The eulogy was movingly delivered by Bill Yasko, our former minister in Houston. In his remarks, Bill compared Connie's desire to spread the word of God in China with the anointing of Jesus by Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, in the final week of his life. Mary, to the displeasure of the disciples, poured a bottle of expensive perfume on the Master, an act which Jesus classified as preparing Him for burial. The disciples placed the value on the fragrance as being equal to a year's wages and insisted the equivalent amount of cash could have blessed the underprivileged. The Savior, on the other hand, placed an incalculable worth on the gesture: He prophesied the story would be retold in the spreading of the Gospel. And He was right- it was told at Connie's memorial. Bill classified the sacrifice Connie made in supporting Christian works in China, including my trip, as a Magnificent Obsession. As Mary used a good portion of her fortune to glorify the Christ, so Connie in a modern setting did the same. The things that obsess most of us are of the mundane variety. There was nothing mundane in the life Connie Radford lived. Although she never achieved fame as the world defines it, she was relevant, perhaps even to unborn generations. In our last conversation when she was able to speak coherently, Connie made me promise that someday, I would return to China. I promised...and she smiled. I'd like to think the Lord smiled, too.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Getters don't get -- givers get.''
Eugene Benge

(I began this entry the first week in October but could never find the right ending for it. It is about someone who made a profound impact on my life. I apologize for not completing it two months ago.)
God bless,
Luke 18:1
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