Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Another Gone Too Young: RIP Abrah Morris (1994 -- 2013)

NOTE: This post has been edited. My goal here was to honor Abrah's memory, not to offend or hurt anyone. Because some have let me know that parts of this post upset them, I have deleted those parts. Again, the intent here was to honor and remember Abrah, not to hurt anyone.

Seems like this story is repeating itself way too often these days. Another young lady I knew, a Vilonia High School graduate from the class of 2012, passed away last week. She was the fifth young person I've known to be taken from this earth way too young in the past 3 years.

Too many. Too young. Too soon.

The saddest thing to me is that if you didn't know Abrah, and you weren't connected to her or her friends on social media, you'd never even know she passed. You wouldn't even know she lived. So very, very sad that a beautiful young lady like her can be taken from us and so many people never even notice.

There's been no newspaper article, no story from any online news service, and no TV story. Nothing. A Google search of her name reveals little more than her social media accounts. Not one mention anywhere that her life was taken when she was struck by a car last week.

Though I don't know all the details of the accident that ended her life, I want to remember Abrah here, because I want her remembered, and because she should be remembered.
" 25 I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;" ~ Job 19:25-26

I didn't know Abrah until her junior year of high school. That was the year Amanda was killed. Amanda's death opened doors for me to talk with and get to know lots of students in ways never before possible. I got to know a lot of kids who came to me to discuss things.

I can't remember if she first approached me, or if I first approached her. There were many times that year when I saw kids who were obviously upset walking down the hall and stopped them to talk. There were also many times kids who were upset came to me and initiated a conversation. Whichever way I first met Abrah isn't so important, but we began to talk regularly at school and that's how I came to know her.

By the end of that year, it didn't look like Abrah would graduate. But over the summer things changed and she returned in the fall and thrived! At the end of the first 9 weeks in her senior year, she brought me her report card. Straight A's! I asked her if I could make a copy of it, and hung it on my bulletin board. When the semester ended, she made all A's again, and again she let me copy it and hang it on my board. This beautiful, troubled young lady who I had so recently thought would never graduate started out her senior year with perfect grades!

Those report cards continue to hang on my board to this day, have ever since I first placed them there. When I learned she was gone, I pulled them down and all our talks, all her excitement, and all her success from those happier days came to mind. All were gone now, history.

One of the first things I thought when I learned she was gone was, "I don't even know if she was saved." In all our talks, I often mentioned God and tried to explain to her how faith in Jesus Christ kept me going, but I never just straight up asked her, "Are you saved? Do you know where you'll spend eternity?" That worried me a lot. I wanted to KNOW that when I die, I'll see her again. I learned later that Abrah had told others she was saved, and that gave me comfort.

But before I heard that, I asked a friend who had been a youth minister if he ever had to preach a funeral for someone who wasn't sure if they were saved. In the discussion that followed, he said something that struck me. "One thing everyone knows the instant they pass, whether they're saved or not saved, is that there is a Heaven and there is a Hell, and the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ." I believe, too, that anyone who passes from this earth, even the unsaved when they are confronted with that undeniable truth, is they would want everyone on earth to know that Heaven, Hell, God, and Jesus Christ are all real, so that everyone they knew, those they loved and those they didn't, would never have to suffer the fires of Hell.

We like to think we can tell who around us will ascend to Heaven when they die, and who will descend to Hell. But Jesus even addressed this to let us know we don't and won't know.
"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, " ~ Matthew 7:21a

The truth is, only me and God can know for sure if I'm going to Heaven when I die. Only He and I can know without a doubt if I truly believe, if I've truly trusted Him, and if I am truly saved. Only He and I. This verse tells me there are many the world believes will enter the kingdom of Heaven who will be turned away at the seat of judgment. So to me it seems plausible there are those who most think won't be in Heaven who actually will.
"...For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest." ~ Luke 9:48b

I still can't be sure about anybody really. There's not one on this earth who I can say with certainty whether they'll spend eternity in Heaven or Hell, not one except myself. And there's not one on this earth who can with certainty say that I'll go to Heaven or to Hell. As much as we'd like to think we know, as much as we'd like to be sure, it's impossible. But when Jesus says the least is the greatest, to me that means there are those we aren't sure about who have trusted Him and will see the glory of Heaven.

I take comfort knowing that Abrah told others she was saved. And I think she wants everyone, everyone she knew and even those she didn't, to join her when it's their time to leave this earth.

So how do we go on from here?

That's a question I asked myself when Amanda was killed too. It's a question that comes when we realize that death can come so unexpectedly, with no warning whatsoever. It's a question that comes with the reality that we cannot truly protect those we love and those we care about. We can't keep them safe 100% of the time. So how can we keep going?

The answer I found was Jesus Christ. His promise that we will see those we love, those who died in Christ, when it's our time to go, that promise, is enough to keep me going. And while we have no way to bring Abrah back, back so she can reach her dreams, back so she can achieve her goals, we do have Jesus Christ and He gives us a way to fulfill her hope that she will be remembered, that her life will mean something to others now that she's gone.

You see, I believe we all have that hope, the hope that we made a difference while we were here. We all, each and every one of us have an opportunity to help make sure Abrah lives on. We have an opportunity to make sure her life counts for something more, that much good is accomplished because she lived. Jesus Christ gives us that opportunity. Jesus Christ is that opportunity.

Like I said before, I never point blank asked Abrah if she knew Jesus Christ as her Savior. That's something I regret now, and something I don't want to regret ever again in the future for another person I know. I want to remember Abrah every time I meet someone and have the opportunity to ask. I want to share the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ with everyone I meet who hasn't heard it. If you know Christ as your Savior, please share. Tell others and think of Abrah when you do it. If even one person is saved from eternal damnation and the fires of Hell because Abrah's story motivated somebody to tell someone about Jesus Christ, then her life counted for more...more than so many others who lived longer.

If you don't already know Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can help make sure Abrah lives on and is not forgotten. Let her story, her short life, motivate you to surrender your life to the Lord today! None of us is promised tomorrow. If we knew the hour of our death, or the hour of the death of those we care about, we'd make sure to get things right with God before we go. But we don't know when, and there's no guarantee we'll get another chance. So let Abrah's story convince you that now is the time to step up and hand your life over to Jesus. All you have to do is admit you're a sinner, accept and believe that Jesus Christ is who He says He is and came to live, teach, suffer, and die for all of our sins, acknowledge your sins, confess them to the Lord, and repent, and ask Jesus to come into your heart and be Lord of your life.

None of us are perfect. Romans 3:23 tells us ALL have sinned and fallen short of what God expects. Not one of us is good enough to earn our way into Heaven. Salvation isn't something we can earn. It's a gift from God, made possible by His sacrifice of His perfect, only Son for our sakes. In John 14:6, Jesus told us He is the only way to Heaven under the new covenant. The only way to Heaven is to believe He is who He said He is, and that He is the only way to eternal life. You don't have to stand before an assembly of men and list your sins one by one. But you do have to acknowledge them, confess them, and repent. That word, repent, is often misunderstood. It means to feel genuine remorse for wrongdoing. If you don't feel guilty when you do wrong, in other words if you're not honestly trying to turn from sin, you haven't gotten this part of the equation down. You've got to repent! In Luke 13:3, Jesus told His followers if they don't repent, they will perish! And finally, call on the name of Jesus, ask Him to be your Savior and Lord. Romans 10:13 says ALL who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

"I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." ~ Luke 15:7

That's how you can help make sure Abrah's life means more, more than it otherwise would have. Let this tragedy motivate you to step up and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. I believe with everything in me that Abrah wants you to. If you need help, there's a link to a prayer you can say at the end of this post. If you pray that prayer, and really mean every single word. If you truly follow the steps Jesus Christ laid out to receive salvation, and honestly believe in your heart that He is who He said and can do what He said, then you will be saved.

And, if Abrah's untimely passing is what motivates you to follow Christ, she will live on, and her legacy will be one all should seek to imitate. I hope and I pray that Abrah Morris will rest in peace, that she's safe in the arms of our Lord and Savior, and that others will come to know Jesus Christ because of her.

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

1 comment:

  1. John,
    This is perfectly said. Thank you for being one of the defenders of these young ones, especially the ones whom many never even see, or hear, or care to hear. Those underdogs are our favorites, and I applaud your defense and love of and for them. God has selected a valiant warrior indeed, in you. Blessings and peace to you my dear friend.


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