It’s hard to think of the word legacy this month without thinking of Beth Gurley. My dear friend left such a legacy behind when she was met in Heaven with open arms on September 11th.
I’m awful at remembering years because some memories feel like yesterday while others feel like decades have passed. I first met the amazing Beth through her daughters, Kathryn and Sara (Meredith is the oldest and was already out of their house by this time). Kathryn was interning with us at SMC and helping me learn the lay of the land since I was new on staff. I immediately noticed something different about the Gurley Girls, it was about WHOSE they are. Usually when I come across a young person who shows such remarkable faith and strength I seek out their parents. I have this ridiculous need to know them and find out what they did to make their kids awesome sauce. Thus, my crush on Beth began.
When you first met Beth you noticed her smile. It wasn’t just her perfectly polished teeth, it was the fact that her smile started with her mouth and ended with a radiance from her eyes-that could only come from a deeply rooted faith and relationship with The Lord. How I wanted to be Beth Gurley from that moment on! Her faith, her joy, her love for others, her devotion to her family, her desire to be more like Jesus, and a gazillion other things have had me saying I want to be like her when I grow up. If I can be half the woman of God she was I will consider myself a success.
As a small group leader, Beth challenged her girls to be more like Jesus, to get to know Him, to study His word and to not take themselves so seriously. Beth left a hole in our ministry when she left to spend more time doing her mission, Step Up. I have no idea how many families are changed because Beth and Jim created Step Up and NEVER waivered from their dedication to it, even when the dreaded C word entered their lives. But I do know, her unfailing determination to serve those less fortunate made a difference in our community.
Once the evil C started battering her body, Beth refused to allow it to steal her joy. Beth knew JOY was not based on her circumstances, but was a gift from God. She freely shared it with others. C would cause her great pain, but you could still look into her eyes and see the sparkle of joy and life and love. I would call Beth to check in on her and I would end up crying the entire time. I’m a really good friend like that. She would remind me the worst thing that could happen to her would actually be the best thing-to wake up in the arms of Jesus. And she’s so very right, but the human woman remaining on earth knows what we are all missing out on without her here.
But legacy…her legacy of faith, hope, trust, love, joy, peace, laughter, radiance, perseverance, kindness, goodness, gentleness, patience, and self-control are things that the rest of us can aspire to because of her legacy. Beth devoured The Word and it was clear The Word resided within her, oh what a legacy. Beth served with a gracious heart, oh what a legacy. I can think of countless verses in the Bible that come to mind when I think of her and her legacy:
And so many more verses because her legacy is of God.