I last saw her when she was 2 years old. I was her family’s pastor until I moved to Killeen. When I saw her picture on the local news — “Twenty-four-year-old stabbed to death in San Antonio” — I knew exactly who she was.
A phone call to her parents confirmed the sad news. For the next few days, I met Lauren through the eyes and hearts of her family and friends.
She was about to graduate from a medical school in Arkansas and follow her God-directed vision to serve the people of Guatemala.
Her picture revealed her beauty. I learned she was brilliant (4.0 grade average in every academic setting). She was an outstanding athlete who loved to run. It was on a jogging trail that she was brutally murdered.
But the most powerful thing I learned about Lauren came during her funeral, which was truly a celebration of life. Three of her friends read from her blog archive. It was a revealing expression of her transformation of faith. She got it!
How would you define success? She was beautiful and brilliant, and she was about to graduate from medical school. Doesn’t that sound successful? Isn’t success defined by the summation of our achievements? You couldn’t blame Lauren for feeling pretty successful!
However, she discovered some truths that changed her life dramatically. She read Rick Warren’s statement, “You were made by God and for God. And until you understand that, life will never make sense.”
She read Colossians 3:23-24, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”
Lauren wrote, “I don’t care what people think of me. I care what people think of my God.” As she reflected on Jesus’ instruction — “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind ... and ... love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:3-39) — she wrote, “My goal in life is to love God and love people.” That was Lauren’s definition of success.
The story of Lauren has changed many lives. Hundreds have decided to commit their lives to the Jesus she loved, served and revealed. She discovered that it is “The Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
I learned another truth from Lauren’s life. While I only knew her as a 2-year-old, I got to know her, really know her, through the testimonies of her family and friends. That’s the way we meet Jesus — stories about Him in Scripture by those who experienced Him in the flesh, followed by life-changing stories from those who have met Him in the Spirit. His story can be life-changing in us, so that one day we will hear what I’m certain Lauren heard, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
The Rev. JIMMY TOWERS is senior pastor of Lifeway Fellowship Church in Killeen.