As I drove out of the hospital parking lot, I saw the most beautiful sunset. It was as if to say, “the darkness cannot drown out this light.” And Oh, it has not. I have always known Jenna was set apart. She was kinder, softer, more joyful. She loved Jesus with a passion and persistence that seemed untamable. It seemed wild. I mean, this past summer she chose to go to Young Life camp as a leader with her girls in the midst of Chemo and cancer for the fourth round to give one more word, one more push towards Jesus. Her life screamed of her lavished love towards her heavenly father. The world could look on her story of Cancer since high school and think, “how are you the way you are?” To look at her joy made you look inward and ask yourself, “what does Jenna understand, that I do not?” Oh God, if I could be half the woman that Jenna was, I would be honored.
But as I left the hospital for the last time, it clicked. Jenna has always understood Jesus in a way that most of us never have. She understood heaven. She understood that we live in the “valley of the shadow of death.” She understood and lived out the truth that our God is our husband with an unfailing love that will never leave us or forsake us. It will not diminish with age, it does not run out, it does not perish. As the apostle, Paul says, “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” I am now understanding that this was our Jenna’s mindset. And what that produced was one of the most loving, intentional women I have ever met. I had the privilege of shepherding her high school girls that she led to Christ when they came to college. Year after year, I have called Jenna for counsel when I felt like my sin, my junk was screwing them up or when I had no idea what I was doing or how to speak correct truth into their lives. She was a soft and firm place to land. Her words were soaked in wisdom and her understanding was more gracious than my hardened heart could ever comprehend.
As I sit here and write out these words and think of the hundreds of memories, I am overwhelmed at the realization that Jenna was the closest earthly image of Jesus that I have ever seen. Rightly so, she walked close to him faithfully. We sat in the waiting room of the hospital and listened to stories of jenna and we heard her father tell us of the first time she got on the bus to go to YL camp in the midst of her first round of cancer. I kept thinking in my head, God used the darkest place in her life to bring her to Him. What Satan intended for evil, God made good. Oh and He made so much good out of Jenna Henderson’s life. There was not enough shadows or darkness to hide the light that came forth on that day. If she were here now, she would tell me to tell you that Jesus is absolutely it. From beginning to end, Jenna’s life was so very important. Important, because it reminds us that this life is hard and no one is exempt from death. Important, because her life reminds us that this place is not our home. Important, because her life reminds us that there is something Greater for us. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Death does not have the victory here. Why? Because Jenna is healed and whole and feasting with our faithful, unfailing Father. And someday, I will sit at the table with her again. Jenna spent her whole life telling others about the only one who gives her Life. “His love is better than life” she would say. And I am here to tell you that was what she echoed even into her last days. Especially in her last days.
Now I realize, I may never be as sweet as Jenna. That is pretty freaking hard to compete with. But man, will I echo her joy and love for Her savior until my final days as well. And so goes the list of every person who encountered Jenna, who by default, had a taste of our sweet Jesus. Job well done, Jenna. We promise to pick up our slack in your honor. Heavenward, I say.
|Cara Dee Photography|