This is the third death from this year. The first was a wonderful teacher who had been central to the KOTESOL community here in Korea. She committed suicide, leaving many people mystified and confused, but it has brought up a discussion on how people living overseas deal with depression. The second was the father of a Sunday School teacher. He died well. That funeral was a beautiful celebration of a life devoted to God and family.
In the midst of news about Rachel Held Evans, I am thinking deeply about salvation, sanctification, reflection, and how everything revolves around story. Our lives and our legacies revolve around story. We want to live in such a way that the story of Christ's saving grace is told through us.
I think Rachel did that. A big part of her writings, her story, is her critique on modern day evangelicalism. She was reflective, opinionated, and critical. She was a faithful doubter and became a leader as a result.
The Atlantic wrote an article about her death. These next two paragraphs appear there as well as here in my thoughts.
“Death is a thing empires worry about, not a thing resurrection people worry about,” she told me in 2015. “As long as there’s somebody baptizing sinners, breaking the bread, drinking the wine; as long as there’s people confessing their sins, healing, walking with one another through suffering, then the Church is alive, and it’s well.” The lasting legacy of Evans’s writing, and of her public life, is her unwillingness to cede ownership of Christianity to its traditional conservative-male stewards—her unwillingness to give up on Christianity, period.
Evans did not lead a denomination or a movement or even a church, but she did invite people to come along as she worked through her relationship with Jesus. Her very public, vulnerable exploration of a faith forged in doubt empowered a ragtag band of writers, pastors, and teachers to claim their rightful place as Christians. Evans spent her life trying to follow an itinerant preacher and carpenter, who also hung out with rejects and oddballs. In death, as that preacher once promised, she will be known by her fruits.
She has a legacy. She leaves behind family and community with her early death. Her story matters to us. Christ's death and resurrection is told in her story. She refused to give up on it.
Your story matters. My story matters. All of these stories matter. Stories open up paths of vision that weren't there before. Mitzi Kaufman opened up a discussion on how to deal with depression. The father of the Sunday School teacher, 'Teacher Yang', had me reflecting on legacy and vision for this mother, wife, teacher, writer, and pastor on what I need to focus on. Rachel Held Evans' death continues this this reflection on what is important. Her death and all these stores are about legacy. Her's reflected the fruit of the Spirit and not giving up on Christianity.
It's all beautiful, and the stories need to be told. Why don't we start with the big one?
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 ESV
Let's tell our stories to each other in every way possible. Our words reflect back to the living Word of God. Let's story in person, on the page, over email and through social media. Let's tell our stories.