I heard the news that she was found dead this morning. I didn’t know her that well or for that long. She showed up at my church one sunday evening with a friend, sitting in the back row almost hiding in the hood from her hoodie. I said hello to her and her friend, chatted to her and she said that it was he first time in church for ages. She wanted to know more. I invited her along to the Christianity Explored course that was going to begin in a few weeks. She came.
That was no ordinary Christianity Explored course. She was full of questions and surprises, eager to know what God is about and what the Bible said. In the course of it we heard about her life. It was a mess. How she had been thrown out of her home at a young age and stopped going to school. She shacked up with a man much older than her who seemed to demonstrate an abusive type of control over this teenage girl. He had some issues and she was registered as his carer. When he took his own life, she wondered from shelter to shelter getting only inadequate care from social services. She started taking drugs, developed mental health problems, got many physical ailments including Epilepsy and regularly drank to much. She was often in trouble with the other women at her shelters and with the police. On more than one occasion she had tried to commit suicide and on another Sunday after church we had to take her to the emergency psychiatrist for fears she would try again.
Yet in that Christianity Explored course she surprised us. Not just with may questions, but with stories of how God had spoken to her in certain situations and with her knowledge of strange bits of the Bible that she had never read and that even I couldn’t quite place (yet we looked them up, her verses were there). Added to this were the challenges of a seizure during one session, and another when she turend up high.
At the end of the course she couldn’t quite get herself to commit to Jesus. There was something holding her back. This is where I bow out as I moved on to another town, but my co-leader continued to meet and pray with her and began to read the Bible. Just before Christmas, her life still a mess, she committed her life to Christ. From then she always had her Bible with her and read it with gusto, eager to hear what God was saying. Let’s get this straight, she was still on drugs, still epileptic and still in an unsuitable relationship, but something had changed.
On Easter Day she was due to get baptised. She didn’t turn up and no-one had heard from her. Yesterday she was found in her flat dead at the age of 20 – whether from her seizures, from an overdose or something else – I don’t know.
So how will God define her? Is this just the death of a druggie? Or of someone with serious health problems? The death of a mental health patient? The death of a messed up girl?
This was the death of a child of God. A daughter of his own.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Rom 8:14)
And through her faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can be certain of her place within God’s people, transformed from her short, broken earthly existence to a glorious new perfect eternal and un damagable reality.
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (Rom 8:18-24)