One of Billy Joel’s hits was “Only the good die young”.  I am not certain about the “only” – I do know that the good do die young.

Nancy Knowles was about ten months shy of her 70th birthday when she died on Thursday.  Chronologically, that’s young.  If you check her “feels like” age, similar to the wind chills or summertime “feels like” temperatures that are reported, she was probably a teenager.

I don’t know how she felt.  She wasn’t a complainer, she was a doer.  And she did things that would wear me out.  Bettie and I were guests in her home more times than we can count, and Nancy was gracious and a perfect hostess every time.  She would have meals prepared before we staggered out of bed, reminding me very much of Proverbs 31:15, describing an excellent wife:

She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household

And she was an excellent wife.  Jim loved (and loves) her very much.  They were comfortable together.

Comfortable didn’t mean inactive.  Nancy’s granddaughter Caroline has Down Syndrome, and Nancy participated actively in the Buddy Walk every year.

Nancy spent a lot of time with Caroline through the years

and gave as good as she got

Rumors that Strawberry Shortcake were Nancy’s favorite character may (or may not) turn out to be true.

Family was important to Nancy.  She lived next door to her sister Mary

and just down the road from her daughter Angie

That’s not all that was important to Nancy.  Her faith – not just faith in a nebulous something, but faith in the saving power of Jesus’ sacrifice – carried her through many situations.  Jim is a minister, and they both spent time in the Word.

And what of all this?  What does it all mean?  What makes her life and death significant?  I’ll tell you.

At the end of her life, one day before she died, Nancy and Jim were supposed to start on a trip to New England.  They had plans and reservations, recommendations on where to go and what to eat.  They were probably packed, and were ready to fly.

James 4:14-15 says

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

Nancy had plans, and she followed God’s will.  God chose to take her on a different trip.  Because it is His will, and because she lived in the center of it, there is rejoicing in the midst of the sorrow.  There is gladness in grief.