Originally posted on Facebook February 9, 2021
It has been awhile since I have published a Loser2021 post. There are a number of reasons for this, but mostly because the end of January and the first part of February have been very difficult and heavy months for me in my process of grief. I did not know grief would hit me so hard this year. I am not sure one ever really comes to the end of grief, but 25 years ago this February I lost the first love of my life. At the time we had three beautiful children and had been married for 8 very happy years. Jeff Jones spent most of January 1996 in a coma and slipped into eternity late in the evening on February 9th. He was 30 years old. The weekend after his passing was a whirlwind of funeral plans, visitations and painful grief.
The funeral itself was a beautiful testimony of Jeff’s love for the LORD. At his parent’s request it was a revival service with an altar call for salvation. Numbers of people came forward to receive Christ. Jeff's grandfather (in his nineties at the time) told me that it was the greatest service he had ever attended. My Uncle Carl told me it was the most inspirational service he had ever been in. This spoke volumes to my grieving heart. The Lord can take great loss, use it for His purpose that brings glory to His name.
Rewind to 4 years earlier and you’ll find a young college wife on her knees most of the spring and summer of 1992. Jeff was finishing up his last year of Bible College. We were in a great church serving in an amazing ministry. I was more than a little skittish about going “out” into the ministry. I became keenly aware of something else about myself during that time. I had never really suffered any great grief or gone through any great personal trial or testing of my faith. I spent months yielding to God’s will over and over again.
There is a song called the Refiner’s Fire that I love to play on the radio. The line that jumps out to me every time I hear it is, “No matter what I may lose, I choose the refiner’s fire.” That is where I had found myself in 1992 telling the LORD, I wanted His will above all else. No. Matter. What. Only I had no idea what I would lose.
Jeff became very ill the last two months of 1992, was diagnosed with leukemia on January 11, 1993. The next three years, he suffered through much pain, chemotherapy, radiation, 2 bone marrow transplants and a host of side effects. He also experienced some of his most productive years in ministry. Jeff led many to Christ in and out of the hospital, he started and pastored a church in Columbia, SC, and drew closer to his Heavenly Father every day until He stepped on the streets of gold.
To be honest, 25 years ago, I spent the entire month of January holding on to what I had already given to the LORD. My will and my everything. I did not want to lose my husband. I did not want to enter an uncertain future on my own with 3 young children. I did not want to lose, but it became clearly evident I would.
I lost an amazing husband and Pastor. Three children lost their father. A loving sister lost her brother. A Mom and Dad lost their only son. Please be in prayer for us this week as we remember a wonderful life. 25 years seems like a lifetime ago, but we remember and will never forget.
I’ll also never forget how God graciously carried me through it all. As the song goes:
“Through it all
Through it all
I've learned to trust in Jesus
I've learned to trust in God.
Through it all,
through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word.”
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.” Mark 8:35
“Lose” from the Greek word “Apollymi” means “to destroy fully.” It is translated “lose” twice in our verse for today.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:25