Lessons From My Hero Kara Tippetts

A month prior to my life changing diagnosis of cancer, Jesus began preparing me. Every sermon, Bible study, devotional, small group curriculum, etc seemed to point to the same place. There are those rare moments in life that I’ve been able to identify a clear message from Jesus and this was one of those. Philippians 1:21For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” At first it confused me because it just sounded like bad English (not the band). But after the 100th time hearing and reading it, it began to make more sense.

“Ok Jesus I’m listening. I’ve always thought that the ‘life verse’ thing was a little overdramatic but I guess you want me to take this one on as mine. My life is yours. Everything I am is because of You and for You. Ok, giddy up. Let’s do this! Oh yeah and to die is gain. Cool.”

Snap forward a month to sitting on my couch after coming home from the doctor’s office with the news of my incurable cancer. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. This little life verse thing just got real. Could this invitation from Jesus still be true with this newfound reality of cancer?

Now snap forward to present day. It had been 15 years since I reconnected with an old college roommate and his wife Kara Tippets. Kara was dealing with an aggressive cancer and was somehow joyful in the middle of it. There is no reason that she should’ve been joyful even through her pain and struggle, but they as a couple were filled with Jesus. She was telling me about Jesus’ invitation to her through this same simple life verse, (I’ll give you 3 guesses of what it was) Philippians 1:21 "For me to live is Christ to die is gain." She talked about how hard it is to see this cancer as anything good. How is leaving my kids a good thing? How is my death gain? Then she said, “but I am learning that death cannot be gain unless for me living is all about Jesus.” Yup that was a drop the mic moment. The only way that “to die is gain” is “to LIVE is Christ”. Struggle with this…work this out…don’t just gloss over it…this is profound, profound, profound TRUTH.

It’s been 14 years of asking Jesus to reveal more of Himself so that my life would actually re-present Him in my life and in my death. He hasn’t stopped answering that prayer.

What if Jesus is inviting us into this reality? What if this awareness is the sheltered harbor into His rest and purpose?