In memory of Victoria Lynn Dunn: A life becomes a legacy

Victoria DunnRecently on the very heels of a “mountain top time” of celebrating the goodness of God, as my wife and I were ordained to serve in ministry at Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC, we returned home to learn that a beloved sister in Christ, Victoria Lynn Dunn, one whom we closely worked with over the past years, had suddenly passed away.

Though we know the truth that death is a part of our earthly existence, situations such as this remind us of the truth from Ecclesiastes which so clearly states:

3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

Even so, we still have difficulty grasping this stark reality at times like these. The poet says,

The mind made numb with pain can only try
To make sense of the immense ache that stays.
The answer sounds since Adam but still dismays:
It is appointed unto man once to die.

In response, the Psalmist speaks these words: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Each day provides us with countless opportunities to learn and grow in God. At times such as this the lyrics to the song “Lessons to Be Learned” speak to us:

Just like the seasons, there are reasons for the path we take.
There are no mistakes, only lessons to be learned.

And so we ask God, what are you trying to teach us in this situation where a dearly beloved friend and fellow believer has departed from this life. In this particular situation, we learn to trust in “the God of all comfort who comforts us with the comfort wherewith we able to comfort one another.” A passage Thessalonians reminds us that we are comforted by hope of the Return of Jesus Christ. Most amazingly, the Verse of the Day on the day that Victoria departed from this life was one of the metaphors that Jesus used to describe himself in John 11:25:

Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, relies on) Me [as Savior] will live even if he dies;

As believers, we rejoice in knowing that just as Jesus died and rose again, so shall those who sleep in Jesus (or those who die in the Lord, be raised from the dead, and those who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Wherefore, the Apostle Paul says, “Comfort one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NLT) provide great comfort and assurance:

13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves.
17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.
18 So encourage each other with these words.

In recalling Victoria Lynn Dunn, my mind is flooded with fond memories. I close my eyes and hear an extraordinary singer with a voice echoing the pathos of legendary blues singers, the deep-seated joy of renowned gospel artists with whispers of jazz stylists all blended with a contemporary sound that was distinctively her own. More than just a great singer, she was a gifted psalmist with a prophetic voice to minister to the heart and soul of in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. In addition our beloved sister in Christ was a scholar of African American literature with a passion to teach, to enlighten and inspire, a poet, and most importantly a teacher with a rhema word from the heart of the Father. She shall surely be missed but during such times of loss, we are sustained by golden memories of a wonderful sister in Christ who touched and enriched our lives in so many ways.

In 2007 Victoria wrote a poem for her sister’s 50th birthday. This excerpt from the poem is a fitting tribute to Victoria Lynn Dunn, as we reflect upon her life and the legacy she leaves behind:

The Life That Becomes a Legacy

The life that becomes a legacy
is never merely measured in days
never simply seen through the haze of unmet expectations
and dreams deferred.

The life that becomes a legacy
is never merely one that teaches
but is one that reaches toward the mark
pressing whether or not it makes it—today.

The life that becomes a legacy
keeps kindly in view tomorrow
and mediates its sorrows
with joys unspeakable
and sometimes spoken.

The life that becomes a legacy
becomes that legacy
despite a history of many things

But never destroyed
for even broken things and broken wings can fly
Contrary to the black bard Dunbar
for there Is one far greater than he
and HE wrote your story before ever any bird was caged
HE set the stage of the play that would become the great drama of life.

And HE never sees anything too broken not to care
too broken for repair and, in fact, delights in repairing broken things
broken dreams
and making them new.

We close this blog entry by listening to Babbie Mason who sings “Trust His Heart” to remind us that

God is too wise to be mistaken;
God is too good to be unkind,
so when you don’t understand,
when you don’t see His plan;
when you can’t trace His hand,
trust His heart.

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