By Martha Pitts
Germantown Baptist Church, Germantown
A sudden loss of a friend right before Christmas brought on a very somber mood and reflection on her life. Amazing, though, how God can help you recall what you can find amid the loss.
We lost Candy Phillips this year. Sharing grandkids tales and how we were adjusting to a new season of life, our usual work dominated conversations had shifted to enjoying our friendship. Yet one month later I get a heart-breaking call that cancer had abruptly shortened her life. Note: take those extra moments to share life.
Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) was the conduit that brought Candy into my life.
I first remember her coming to West Tennessee as president of Tennessee WMU. In her greetings she mispronounced the name of a local town, pronouncing Milan as the French would, instead of the Southern emphasis on the first syllable. She diverted from her speech, asking the cause of the chuckles. She quickly joined in the laughter. Note: don’t take yourself too seriously.
Women of WMU are notorious for meeting the needs of those on the front lines of God’s mission to save the world. I am not sure of the exact roots of the idea to build a missionary house on the property of the Tennessee Baptist Mobilization Center, but Candy took it as a personal mission. Prior to retiring as executive director of Tennessee WMU she vowed to see that task complete. Making it a Tennessee WMU team effort, the vision became reality. Missionary families now enjoy furloughing at a place they can truly call home. Note: when God gives a vision, you put your best effort — your all — into seeing it accomplished.
We lost a dear friend and co-worker, but we found inspiration from her life. We mourn a loss of more special moments of her friendship, but we vow to take every opportunity going forward to invest in others’ lives. I will remember how Candy showed me how to laugh at myself when you mess up. I need that lesson often! All of us can think of ways that Candy could have enriched the work of WMU and all of our lives personally with just more time. Amid our tears, let us vow to find God’s vision for our own lives and see it to the end.
“Amazing Grace” sings of “lost but now I’m found.” I am so confident of that grace that allowed forgiveness of all sins and eternal life. I can visualize God ushering Candy into heaven. But with tears in my eyes, I am struggling with my loss from my earthly view. I will rest today simply knowing that “I am found.” We are in His loving arms whether we are in His presence like Candy or still traveling our road of life.