The death of a teen changes everything
Myranda was a bubbly spirit on the high school cheerleading squad. She enjoyed concert choir. However, Myranda’s spirit was bound up, longing to be set free. She suffered emotionally. Family relationships were strained. She struggled with addictive behavior, a sign of inner turmoil.
When I baptized Myranda last July I knew that she entered the water by faith, trusting the Holy Spirit to transform her life. She knew she could not do it alone. Her worldliness was visible to her and to those who knew her. However, she longed for the peace of Christ to rule in her heart.
After the accident, I learned many encouraging things about how Myranda’s faith developed significantly in the weeks prior to the accident. She called and texted her friend and mentor Josh Gill day and night. Early on, Josh was deeply concerned with some of the topics she shared with him. Within a few months after her baptism, the tone changed. When reading her Bible, she would often text, “Dude!” and they would discuss it together.
For instance Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me….and I will give you rest…and you will find rest for your souls…” She wondered, “Is ‘rest’ literal or a metaphor?” She concluded, “Life is too precious for people to fight about small stuff.”
A majority of the verses Myranda underlined in her Bible related to the black and white nature of what she knew it means to follow Christ. Generally we call it holiness, separating ourselves from worldliness. These passages provide insight into what God taught her.
She was intrigued that one has to pass through the narrow gate before beginning to walk the road to life (Matt. 7:13-14). “So what’s the gate?” she asked. Josh answered, “Jesus.”
Myranda valued loving and being loved (Matt. 7:1-2). “That’s what I like about you, Josh (and wife, Sarah); you never judged me.” She really respected those who did not judge her. She just wanted to know, “Do you love me?” At Myranda’s funeral, Josh shared that they discussed Romans 12:9-21 at length. She sought unconditional love and found a vivid understanding of it.
About a month before the accident, Myranda was invited to the Women of Faith Revolve Tour event in Denver. She finally consented when someone from our church donated her trip fees. The message transformed her. Myranda was a fun-loving kid at heart and still not perfect. But along the narrow road she began to share Jesus’ love with those who would listen. She shared Scripture with friends and invited them to church. Some of them ridiculed her. A pregnant teenage friend was one who listened. Her cousin, Veronika, was another. They came to church every week together.
The last two services they attended were the Good Friday Communion service where we examined the New Covenant, bread and cup and Easter Sunday worship. A family friend reported Veronika was a noticeably different person after Easter.
How comforting it is to know that our salvation does not depend upon our perfection but Christ’s within us through his broken body, spilled blood and the power of his resurrection. We call it “grace.” By grace we are saved through faith—and this not of ourselves. It is God’s gift to us.
People in Ulysses are thinking about eternal things. Life is short. If Myranda was brought back from the dead and authored this article, I wonder what she would say. I wonder what she regrets, what she might confess. If she had but one more day, week or year, how might she have lived? Myranda’s dad said, “This changes everything. Doesn’t it?” I pray it truly does.
Nathan Gift was most recently pastor at Ulysses (Kan.) MB Church. Myranda’s friend Joshua Gill has finished his second year at Tabor College, majoring in Christian ministries. A Myranda Mason Memorial Endowment is being established at Ulysses MB Church to send young people to conferences and the mission field. For more information you may call the church office at 620-356-2515.