I sat on the soft couch of the spacious church lobby, mesmerized by her honest transparency. She explained how her breast cancer diagnosed three years prior reared it’s ugly head again and she would undergo radiation.
This was our first meeting – Parents in Prayer for the preschool our children attended – and I was in awe of her openness to share her life with women she didn’t know. And she seemed so calm about it all. She had experienced the presence of God in her life through these trials and clung tightly to the hope He provided.
I wish I had that, I thought. It seemed like she could endure anything. Rough times had not shaken her solid faith, rather they made it stronger.
Three years have past since that first meeting and the journey of life has had it’s ups and downs for both of us. Thankfully, the Lord has brought me to a place where I can look back and say, I have that now, too.
Recently, she and I met for lunch and I had the opportunity to share my story with her. I explained how a past lived in shame and depression had finally been brought to redemption. Fear had been replaced by courage, insecurity by confidence. I didn’t hide from difficult conversations, but rather approached them with openness and honesty.
It felt great to share with her that day and I’ll never forget her response, “I could tell something was different. It’s like you’re shinier now.”
She had a special way with words, her joyful enthusiasm apparent. Her positive outlook on life was supplied by her faith and ushered in peace as the cancer progressed. She had a fearless tenacity to fight the good fight until the Lord called her home.
Nearly six years after initial diagnosis, her cancer is no longer responding to treatment. Tears filled my eyes as I read her last Facebook post,
“There is a sweet, sacred New Way I have known Jesus by going thru this. As Levi Lusko once said….it’s a horrible privilege. Just recently, as I have learned the cancer is taking over the liver, I have come to a place of surrender that this, in all the ways it might seem wrong, is what the Lord has asked of me. And in this surrendering of laying down my life, He has given me a peace that truly surpasses all understanding. I’m tired and I can’t wait to get my new body!”
Her peace truly is one surpassing all understanding. She has come to trust in the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. Her faith personifies this quote from Timothy Keller – God will allow evil only to the degree that it brings about the very opposite of what it intends.
At her core, she has come to understand the truth of God’s word: She is one of the Lord’s Saints and her death is precious in His sight (Psalm 116:15). The day is coming when God will wipe away every tear from her eyes; there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There will be no more pain (Revelation 21:4). She knows she has fought the good fight, she has finished the race, she has kept the faith. Now, there is a crown of righteousness waiting for her, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to her. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
Never fear dying, beloved. Dying is the last, but the least matter that a Christian has to be anxious about. —Charles Spurgeon.
My friend is not afraid. She knows that the place she is going will be without suffering, without pain, without cancerous sin. She will finally be free of a broken mortal body. Her soul will do what she was created to do – glorify God.
My friend is an amazing example of the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31:
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her
A spirit of faithful confidence has enabled her to live with strength and dignity, Jesus being the most important thing in life. As Colossians 1:10-14 describes, she has lived a life worthy of the Lord, one that has pleased Him in every way, bearing fruit in good works, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with power, glorious might, endurance and patience, always joyfully giving thanks. She will inherit the Kingdom of Light as she leaves this dominion of darkness, having full redemption and forgiveness of sins.
I am so thankful to have known Britton Neese, even if for a short time. She has left an impact of faith on my heart and life; one I hope to leave in a similar way. The memory of her courageous strength, fearless faith, and joyful tenacity will stay with me forever.
“Britton – well done, good and faithful servant.”