As I get older I have started reading the obituaries. I read “She could waterski, but she couldn’t swim”. I read this tribute, and was totally blessed by it. I hope it blesses you.
“Carolyn Benefield, born January 29, 1938 in South Fulton, KY was perfectly described by that amazing characteristic. Who can do that? Who will ski when they can’t even swim? Only someone with the ability to totally place their faith in what they’ve been told and subsequently believed. Carolyn was told that if she kept her ski tips up, held on and let the boat do the work—she’d ski. She believed what she was told and she skied. That she could do nothing to save herself if she fell was not a factor. She had faith and let the boat pull her. She skied and never swam. That ability to trust and believe defined her life. She believed in and trusted the people around her. But it was the faith she placed in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior that allowed the family and friends she leaves behind to rejoice when she joined her Lord on December 14, 2018. Carolyn knew there was nothing she could do in life to save herself other than believe; her faith in Christ assured her salvation. Carolyn was an active member of Riverview Baptist Church where she loved serving in multiple roles over the years.”
This tribute to Carolyn says so very much, and it’s a perfect description of that which we call “Faith”. The Scripture defines “faith” this way:
Hebrews 11:1 (KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Faith can only come to those who are humble and willing.
A person who believes they can do all things in their own strength does not have faith. They have pride. They have self assurance. They have perhaps arrogance. But this thing we call “Faith” is something that only comes to the humble. Carolyn did not know that she could ski, but humbled herself, and trusted in the love of those who were trying to teach her. That’s faith. That’s how you learn to ski before you learn how to swim.
Faith trusts in something outside yourself. Carolyn was a woman of faith. She worked beside her husband, trusting and loving Billy for over 60 years. Billy showed her how to work with cattle. She loved him, had faith in him, and worked cattle alongside of him. Billy told me that Carolyn drove a tractor, raked hay, and did everything but bale hay. She loved and trusted his her husband, and he loved her very much.
Faith trusts in Someone greater than yourself.
Like she trusted the ones who taught her how to ski, and like she trusted her husband enough to learn how to drive a tractor, she trusted the Lord Jesus Christ. When Carolyn heard the bad news that …
Romans 3:23 (KJV) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God …
She realized that there is a God Who loves her and made her, but she, like we, all fall far short. But she heard that this wonderful Creator loved her so much that He came and gave His life for her. She heard and believed …
John 3:16-18 (KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Carolyn believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
She lived her life of faith believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The text that God laid on my heart today is about faith. In the Book of Hebrews chapter 11 the Lord speaks of a number of people who had faith in the Lord.
- The text speaks of a man named Abel who trusted God, though his brother Cain killed him (vs 4).
- The text speaks of Enoch who loved and walked with God so much that he never died, but walked right into Heaven (vs 5).
- The text speaks of Noah who loved God so much he built an Ark before he ever saw a raindrop fall. (vs 7).
- And the text speaks of Abraham who followed God looking for a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.
The Bible talks of this and a mighty cloud of witnesses who went before. Their faith was not in what they had, but in the God Who promised them eternity.
They did not look backwards but looked UPWARD.
Hebrews 11:15-16 (KJV) And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.  But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Faith believes that God has prepared a city for His people.
We have not seen that city yet, but will see it one day.
God is faithful.
1 Corinthians 1:9 (KJV) God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
We have not seen that city, but Carolyn walks in that city this very day. Absent from the body, she is face to face with her Lord (1 Corinthians 5:8). Our Lord Jesus promises us that if our earthly home dissolve to dust, we have a building of God, a house made not with hands, eternal in the Heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1). The child of God – safe in the arms of Christ – now suffers no more. We all who have confessed the Lord Jesus and believed in our hearts that God hath raised Him from the dead are saved, and have this promise from Him. (Romans 10:9-10). Carolyn is safe in the arms of Jesus.
After speaking of faith and giving us examples of faith lived out we are told in:
Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV) Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
There are a great cloud of witnesses watching us.
Those who went before us watch.
The world around us watches us.
And the Lord watches us.
If we are Christ’s possession by faith, if we are children of God by faith, the Lord tells us to “run with patience the race that is set before us”. Carolyn ran her race. Her race was not easy, nor will yours be. In any race the beginning is easy. But Christ Jesus did not call us to sprint, but to run a race. Life is a race where some days you are on the mountaintop, and you coast. There are easy days. But then, there are hard days. There are the days you are in the valley, and trying to run up a mountain. This is why the Bible tells us to “run with patience”.
We are not to give up, but to look up.
We are to trust the Lord Who saved us. The Lord tells us to put aside every weight – and keep on running! Do not worry. Do not be depressed. Jesus tells us to “Have faith in God”. Trust that He has your wife, your mother, your grandmother, your aunt. Trust what the Lord tells us.
Romans 8:35, 37-39 (KJV) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God loves Carolyn – and every person that receives His Son Jesus by faith – as His own Child. Carolyn ran the race set before her. When Parkinson’s struck I never heard Carolyn complain. Each time I visited I’d ask “How are you doing?” and her reply was “I’m all right” or “I’m fine”. As she ran her race she got more and more tired. The things that she used to do, she could no longer do. But she ran with patience that race, doing what the Scripture tells her.
She kept looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of her faith.
Beloved, I beg you to do as she did. Life is unexpected. We never know what tomorrow may bring. As we age the grass withers, the flower fades away, but the Word of the Lord abides forever. The promise that Christ makes to them that believe in Him is very simple.
John 11:25-26 (KJV) …. I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
To LIVE and BELIEVE is to have faith.
“Believest thou this?”. Carolyn along with others believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God Who came into the world. He came to be believed. He came to seek and to save all of us. Because Carolyn received Him as He is, though her earthly race has ended, her eternity has just started. She is now in a place where:
Revelation 21:4 (my paraphrase) Her God has wiped away all tears from her eyes. She shall feel no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Her race has ended, and she is in her reward. (Revelation 21:7 paraphrased) She who overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be her God, and she shall be my child.
We will miss her, but we will see her tomorrow – if Christ is ours. We have that promise of the Father. I end with this special text from God:
Psalms 121:1-8 (KJV) … I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.  He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.  Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.  The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.  The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.  The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.  The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
May God touch your hearts with His Word.