This is a guest post by one of the women that I look up to: Joyce Burton Titular. Her wisdom, her genuine care for others, and her ability to empower and motivate people are just some of the reasons why I totally love her. She took the time from her busy schedule to write this beautiful blog post, and I am honored to share it with you today.
It’s been a month since the death of Melody Gersbach, Bb. Pilipinas International 2009, but I still feel the sorrow. And I confess that I am having a hard time understanding why she was taken so soon and in such a violent way: her car had a head-on collision with a bus; an accident that left half of her baby-doll face smashed in.
The other day, I found a magazine (the bridal issue of Hair Asia) with Melody Gersbach on the cover dressed as a bride. Seeing her so alive on the bookstore shelves just broke my heart. This was apparently one of her last modeling stints before the accident. The Hair Asia magazine was, for me, a stark reminder of how life and beauty can be cut short at any moment and in the worst way possible. I wanted to cry.
Why do things like this happen? Don’t beauty queens get an extra guardian angel or two from God? Apparently not. So, what gives; what went wrong?
While I struggle with these questions, my former pastor comes to mind. He once said at Sunday service that there are questions in life which only God can answer. The one thing he DOESN’T do is expect people to answer them. What he DOES instead, is he writes them down in his list of “Questions-to-Ask-God-When-I-Get-to-Heaven“.
Great advice! If only it would clear away the web of confusion in my head.
But God is gracious because even if I stumble over questions that can never be answered on earth, He picks me up and gives me comfort. Here are three things God has whispered to my heart as I try to make sense out of the death of Melody Gersbach:
1) Jesus Wept.
John 11:35 owns the distinction of being the most economic Bible verse with only two words: “Jesus wept.” If you read the entire chapter of John 11 you’ll see that Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus who was one of his good friends. Short as John 11:35 may be, it sums up the entire heart of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t just love us from a distance. He loves us (com)passionately. He cries WITH us and FOR us. I find comfort in knowing that the King of Kings cries tears of love for Melody Gersbach and her family.
2) Jesus Lives.
1 Peter 1:3b-4 says: “In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you…”
God helps me focus my eyes on heaven when the goings-on on earth become too painful to look at. I remember attending a talk by Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of evangelist Billy Graham and she said something I will never forget: “Life. Is. Hard. And that’s why,” she says, “we need to hang on to Jesus and pin our eyes on heaven.”
With that reminder, I am believing that I’ll be seeing Melody Gersbach when it’s my turn to face the pearly gates of eternity.
3) Jesus is our First Love.
“Feel ko na siya – yung mga gowns and jewelry and hair and make-up. The whole package. I know I’m definitely going to be a bride but I have yet to meet my groom.”
But this is never going to happen. Melody Gersbach is never going to know what it is like to stand before the altar and promise herself to a man. She will never feel the pangs of birth nor the joy of hearing her baby’s first cry. The gown she dreamed of wearing will never be sewn.
While it is tempting for me to simmer in these sad thoughts, God is gracious enough to remind me that Jesus is our first love. And we belong to him. Jesus says it himself in Revelation 2:4. So I comfort myself with the thought that Melody Gersbach HAS met her Groom, not on earth, but in heaven. She walks in a white flowing wedding gown, carrying a bouquet of lavenders with Jesus, her first love, by her side.
I guess she doesn’t need an extra angel or two anymore to keep her safe.
Bye Melody, til next time!
* * *
Joyce Ann Burton, now Joyce Burton Titular, is a former Bb. Pilipinas Universe winner. She is now married with two grown children and is currently the news anchor for RPN News Watch. She keeps a blog called Adventures of a Beauty Queen and in it she features Filipina beauty queens. Her blog’s goal is to showcase the best in Filipina beauty–and she does an awesome job at it! Show her some love by visiting her blog at http://adventuresofabeautyqueen.com.
Joyce had the chance to interview Melody Gersbach before she flew to the Miss International beauty pageant where she made it as one of the Semi-Finalists. You can read more about Melody Gersbach’s story here: http://adventuresofabeautyqueen.com/2009/11/12/melody-gersbach-dedicates-miss-international-2009-bid-to-late-aunt/