Finishing the Race

Gandalf 3


“I met with my pastor today and I told him I want you and Elaine to sing at my memorial service.”

My eyes filled with tears as I realized Sally knew her time here was coming to an end.

“I am deeply honored that you would ask me, ” I choked out.

This was the woman who had visited me 24 years ago right before my mastectomy to encourage me that cancer was not a death sentence. Sally had experienced a mastectomy and chemotherapy just the year before and became a volunteer with Reach for Recovery.

Sally was also an operating room nurse and the next week as I was rolled into surgery, Sally was one of the nurses on duty. She asked if she could pray with me and I replied, ” please do”. Sally prayed that I would be calm and sense God’s love as I went through surgery. The last thing I remember is thinking that when the surgeon made the incision love would pour out because I was so filled with God’s love through the prayers of Sally and many precious friends and family.

That was 24 years ago and after two more battles with cancer, Sally went on to be with the Lord.

“I don’t want anyone wearing black and being mournful,” Sally told Elaine. “I want the service to be a time of worship and blessing because I will be with Jesus.”

It was that indeed!

Sally’s memorial was a celebration of a life that radiated the love of Jesus everywhere she went. Sally had touched so many lives in so many varied ways through her ministry as a nurse, her singing and playing the guitar at nursing homes, her participation in the Community Orchestra playing the flute, playing tennis and bridge, and many hours of service through the churches she attended over the years. Sally was a talented woman and was so generous in using those talents for the Lord.

I am blessed to have been in a Home Group with Sally for the past several years. Her late husband, Arden, and she were committed members of our Home Group and they loved to worship and pray together before he died.

Sally continued to participate and she loved to worship and pray for her children and grandchildren. We prayed for healing for Sally and she expressed her faith in God as her healer – always confirming her trust in God’s will.

I will never forget watching Sally as her physical condition worsened, she remained strong in faith and Spirit. She confessed that God was faithful and that she was ready to go to meet Him when it was her appointed time. As a nurse, Sally knew the medical implications of what she was facing, yet she also know God was in control.

Last weekend I was watching our grandsons play outside and noticed how the youngest one tries to keep up with his bigger brothers. If there is an obstacle in the way – he climbs it.  He doesn’t want anything to stop him from being right there with his big brothers.

Isn’t that the way we should be with God? We must not let anything – cancer, separation, heartache, even a loved one’s death stand in the way of following Jesus – the author and finisher of our faith. Sally was like that  – cancer did not separate her from God’s love. Paul says something about this to Timothy when Paul realizes he is near death.

2 Timothy 4:6-8  (NLT)

6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near.

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

Sally fought the good fight.

Sally finished her race.





12 thoughts on “Finishing the Race

  1. Sheila says:

    Beautiful, my friend.


  2. Shelia,
    I feel so honored to have had your mother as a friend. Her example will always be a guide. Blessings to you.


  3. What a wonderful tribute to Sally, Gayle. She was truly a joy-filled woman.


  4. Beautiful story, beautiful lady. Sally and Arden were some of the first people I met when I came to Cullowhee in 1976. They were always there for the students showing love and kindness and loving God with immense faith. I haven’t seen Sally in a long time – until I read this post today. I know she will be missed.


  5. Hannah says:

    I remember going to their house when we had that chimney fire- what great friends you have had and continue to have!


  6. Norma Clayton says:

    What a lovely tribute to Sally. She was a remarkable lady and touched so many lives with her kind, gracious and caring ways.


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