Standing In The Gap Of The Real And Perceived
Sunday night, November 23rd, 2014, we lost Kate Barnett in a traffic accident on a road trip with her boyfriend. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Sometimes I wonder if I’m worth any more than it looks like on paper. No one ever wondered that about Kate. I met Katie when she was nine or ten years old. Loaded with her mother’s wit and her father’s grace, she was disturbingly disarming and equally beautiful. Katie was special to me from the first time I met her. All kids are special in their own way, of course. But Katie was intense, driven, keenly aware, and unobtrusive about it. She was an Amazon-in-training, a real life Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson books, if you will. Except that Katie was no myth or storybook character. She was the real deal. That’s the way she was knitted.
A bit young yet for the church youth group I briefly lead, my interaction with her was largely from Sunday mornings and gatherings at her parents’ home. Normally playful around children, I was always a little more careful of myself in Katie’s company, because she was never anybody’s fool. If I tested her, at roughly one quarter my age, Katie could casually lacerate me with just a few words, leaving me speechless. She was no wet rag, though. When the time was right, Katie was a goofball, and could meet you eye-to-eye at any level of gravity or levity, whether you were five or fifty.
After graduating from Asheville Christian Academy, industrious and athletic, Kate ended up at the last minute taking an offer for a full ride, courtesy of the United States Army, attending Gardner-Webb University, and just this past Spring became the first female ROTC graduate ever of Gardner-Webb’s baccalaureate nursing program. The Army was so impressed, they let Kate continue her education toward a graduate degree before assuming full-time active duty. But that dream ended Sunday night on I-81 in West Virginia, along with many others. She was 22 years old.
That sounds sad, doesn’t it? From here, at least. But Kate’s destination last night was never in doubt. Her Savior is Christ Jesus, and His Spirit was real and abiding in her here on earth, as it is now in Heaven. As with all her other decisions, Kate measured the cost. And as I said, she was nobody’s fool. Kate was an heiress to the Kingdom, a daughter of the King.
Someday, I’ll see the kingdom in full, and I’ll have some questions for God. I probably should be more concerned about the questions He’ll have for me; I’m a problem child. I’ll ask God the “hard” ones, just to see if He blinks. He’ll smile with me, and we’ll laugh, and I’ll marvel at how majestic He is, how dangerous but good, that I can yet jest with Him, the Alpha and Omega. And eventually, I’ll run into Kate, smiling. I’ll jest with her, too. And I’ll marvel.
You worship, Kate. Just keep worshipping. We’ll find you.