How do you forget someone who forever changes you? How do you put out of your mind an experience you will never forget? I recall like yesterday that night at MUSC hospital watching a 19 year old Round O angel transition to Heaven. I’ve been by the bedside of many souls as they made their eternal transition, but this one was different.I sat up in my bed many a night afterwards, searching for answers. In fact, it was her passing that inspired me to write my first of nearly 200 articles since called “What If.” As I’ve often said, things are always different when they happen in your backyard. What if it happened to you? What if it happened to your loved one? I’m still not sure how a young girl I barely knew had such a profound effect on my life and ministry.
God has again inspired me to write some things concerning this sweet girl many still dearly miss. Hard to believe its been two years since we said our temporary goodbyes to this angel. I realize her family and friends still feel like they just had a bad dream. I rarely go a day without remembering you all in my prayers. I would like to rewind back to that night to share some things God has shown me over time.
Shortly after breathing in the shock of her death, I had a brief conversation with Allie’s mom Alesa. I said, “Alesa, you’ve got to allow me to help with her funeral. I know God has a purpose for all of this and I know you don’t want to waste that purpose.” I knew so many of her young friends would struggle to embrace this reality. I also knew God doesn’t take anyone by accident, only by appointment.
Out of the few hundred funerals I’ve preached, I’ve never felt more called by God to be a part of someone’s service. Of course, at those moments there are no magic words. However, God’s word always sheds light and hope on even the darkest of moments. I recall looking into many tearful eyes and wondering myself why things had to be this way. While still feeling certain that God had greater plans.
As I’ve shared before, I experienced something prior to Allie’s going home service that I never had before. One of the funeral home staff came running to me. He said, “Come here and look at this.” He had just finished setting up a huge oil painting of Allie near the back of the chapel for all to see as they came in. He looked like he had just seen a ghost as he described what he saw. He said, “You won’t believe this. While I was setting up her picture, the sunlight from the window lit just her face up like an angel as if God was giving us a sign.” Honestly, this angel’s smile and legacy continue to touch many.
Allie personally inspired me in every area of my life and ministry. I gained hundreds of new friends after this event. Friends that I don’t think were meant to ever be the same after this angel left us all too early. I actually believe that God wants to use Allie’s life and home going to change our lives for the better.
My friends, if you’re still living your life the same since her passing you missed something. You missed the fact that tomorrow is not promised. You missed the fact that we all need to make sure we’re not putting our stock in this world, but in the world to come. You missed the fact that we should all live with a great sense of urgency knowing that today could be our appointed time.
I honestly feel like I’m writing these words on behalf of Allie Murdaugh. She would want you to know that life is too short to waste even a moment. She would want you to know Heaven is too great a place to not make sure you’ve made a reservation. And, that everything in life happens for a reason. Even if we don’t understand it, even if we wish things were different, even if we can’t see God’s greater plans at this very moment.
I honestly don’t think Allie’s home going was the greatest tragedy. The greatest tragedy, I believe are those who experience something like this, yet continue to live life the same. I don’t believe there is a pain or loss we will ever endure that God doesn’t have a greater purpose. It could be to wake us up, shake us up, and for sure give us an entirely different perspective of life.
I continue to pray for each of you that God might give you healing and direction. Many of you reading this still have much of life ahead. Actually, your days are numbered and no one knows when their number will be called. Make sure you make the moments count. If you’re not involved in a church I want to personally invite you to come as you are to www.RefugeChurch.org. We meet every Sunday 10:30a.m. @ the Colleton Rec Center. If for some reason when you visit I don’t recognize you, just tell me that Allie Murdaugh sent you. I’ll totally understand what you mean!
*On my blog you will find other related articles under the category CELEBRATING ALLIE MURDAUGH. Articles like “What If” and “Compicated Grief”. You’ll even see the exact manuscript I used at her going home service. Also, make sure you pick up this week’s “Colletonian” as this article will be featured in my weekly column.