Wave After Wave

Posted on April 15, 2008

Our leadership team is still recovering from the loss of Vanessa Whitwell, who served our staff for nearly a decade. Wherever you turn at Fellowship you see her thumbprint on something.

During her funeral last week I shared a story about a time her and her husband Andy travelled with Lisa and me to Hawaii. One afternoon we were swimming on this beach. And the waves crashing in were tsunami size. Only in Hawaii can you get waves the size that we saw. Most of us were standing about waist deep in the water. But all of a sudden, I looked out to my right and I saw Vanessa swimming out toward these giant waves. And to my amazement, she began to body surf on these towering, powerful, Hawaii 5-0 type waves.

In John 10:10 Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly."

The word "abundantly" in the original language is a picture of waves crashing upon the seashore. That picture of Vanessa riding those waves is a microcosm of her life.

Amazingly, Buddy Cremeans, a dear friend of mine, called a few days ago and left a message and a prayer for Vanessa’s husband Andy and our staff. And during his prayer he said, "God, I pray that your waves of grace would surround all of the friends, family and staff who loved Vanessa dearly."

Just coincidence? I’m not buying that.

You know, when you ride the waves with people in ministry; when you’re being tossed around on the rough seas or even when it’s smooth sailing, you don’t realize how close you get to someone until their snatched from you.

This tragedy has brought our team closer. It’s made us realize the camaraderie and the loyalty and the love that we have for each other. I hear people talk about missing the camaraderie that they experienced with a certain battalion or in boot camp. And they talk about the closeness that they felt.

Well, as we are involved in this faith fight; as we’re involved in rowing this craft, this ship, to where God wants us to go, let’s take time to appreciate others, to love one another and to rise above our petty differences. Let’s look at the bigger picture. Because we’re a team. We’re a fellowship. We’re a bunch of men and women rowing a ship to take turf and to conquer new lands for the kingdom of God.

Vanessa, we’ll miss you. We thank you for the legacy that you left. And for the unbridled, offensive energy that you put into riding wave and wave for the kingdom of God. 

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