Those who are wise will shine like the bright heavens. And those who lead many to do what is right and good will shine like the stars forever and ever. –Daniel 12:3 (NLV)
Last night, I was told of the departure of a true saint to heaven. Linda Dunlap was a sweet friend and mentor of mine. 10 years ago, I was given a life-changing opportunity of going to China and Korea on a mission trip. After a month of spending time with the Dunlaps in China, and a tireless effort of the cadet who also went with me to help me understand the tenets of Christianity, I went as an unbeliever (not knowing it was a mission trip), and came home a believer. I watched Linda faithfully walking a devoted life to her Saviour, free from hypocrisy. This was the most powerful influence on the moment I accepted the free gift of Salvation, that Christ gave to me (on the plane from China to Korea). I haven’t met anyone more in love with their Savior than she. In her absence, I keep thinking, why, O, why Lord, would you allow a grave sinner like me to cross paths, and not only cross paths, but have her as a spiritual mentor to me? I don’t know why. I certainly don’t deserve to know her and have her touch my life like she did. I don’t deserve my salvation either. It is a gift.
My mind has been flooded with memories of Linda: Time we spent together, visits, movies we saw together, conversations in person, on the phone, and e-mails. Mostly of my trip to China with her. It was a month of discipleship from an amazing woman. Her love, devotion, submission, and respect of her husband was what first caught my eye. Her smile. Her infectious laugh. Her passion to spread the gospel to the Chinese. She had a missionary’s heart. She LOVED people as Christ loved people. She radiated Christ’s joy and love to everyone she encountered. No matter how much pain and suffering she encountered, she suffered with joy. Two decades battling breast cancer on and off, ultimately losing her left arm, and having it spread all throughout her body at the end, she tirelessly poured out of her life to everyone around her, without complaint. On Good Friday, this past Easter she passed. What a remarkable woman she was and is. This morning the Lord reminded me that she was in His arms—safe and free from pain and suffering. My joy came in the morning (thank-you Julie).
My son was troubled by my sudden tears last night. He pulled close to me and sang me “Twinkle, twinkle little star” and gave me kisses. This morning, I thanked him and talked to him about my sweet friend Linda. He said “Mommy, let’s go see her in heaven today.” I knew he didn’t quite understand. Not knowing what to say, I told him “Sweetie, that would be wonderful and someday we will get to see her in heaven, but we can’t go to heaven until Jesus calls us home and for now, we have lots of work to do for Jesus.”
You see, Linda worked tirelessly for Jesus. Lately, I have been feeling depleted and discouraged in planting seeds, not seeing much visible fruit (and having unrealistic expectations). I have gotten so easily discouraged. I have also gotten frustrated with persecution and lack of faith and understanding. This morning, I felt so ashamed of making it, once again, all about me. I want to live a life COMPLETELY devoted to Jesus. I want to RADIATE joy to everyone around me. I want to do it to be PLEASING TO GOD. This is what Linda reminded me of this year. “Don’t seek perfection, Dawn, seek to be pleasing to God.” She knew my heart. She knew my pitfalls. She knew how to redirect me to the Lord. She had one of the most wonderful examples of a Godly marriage and she gave me the best marriage advice: “Let your expectation be in Him.” She always focused me first on my husband, and then on my children. She always told me to focus on loving others, anyway I could…and to not have any agendas…my agenda was to be whatever the Lord had planned for me that day. And she demonstrated this to me always.
I love you Linda. I hope that I can be worthy of your discipleship. I hope I can finally turn from seeking my own fulfillment and happiness and begin to serve the Lord and love Him with all my heart like you. Thank-you for pouring yourself into me always. I will never forget you.
There is a tribute of Linda Ruth Dunlap from ACCTS (Association for Christian Conferences, Teaching and Service) (http://www.accts.org/).
Here is a tribute written about Linda that I loved:
God raises up remarkable women every now and then: pure-hearted; steadfast for Christ and His commission; grace personified; other-centric. Linda was such; she was a gift . . . leaving a powerful witness, and impossible to measure her Kingdomly contributions. Deepest condolences to Cal, and all the Dunlaps. Any who knew Linda don’t need to be reminded that Heaven has ushered in a beautiful, priceless treasure of a woman. I only got to know her briefly on a China trip a while back, but that was enough; I was hooked! The vast majority of us are only cheap initiations by comparison! Always by Cal’s side…. and O that infectious laugh and those ever-smiling eyes. Even on this week’s China trip, all ACCTS emails, conversations, and testimonies confirmed her legacy. Anyone who ever knew Linda was a lucky person. In every single way she reflected the Holy One, and His joy and radiance rubbed off on anyone in her presence. A more loving wife and devoted mother would be hard to find. I hope I’m not misunderstood in saying that “Without Linda, there would have been no Cal”; and their relationship was and remains such a beautiful beacon for others to follow. She persevered to the end, and is now rejoicing in Heaven with many others she guided to Jesus. Linda is gone, you say? Hardly! She has arrived¦ now whole and pain free¦…tasting the timeless joy she deserves, hearing the words “Well done!”