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Savannah's Story: love amidst loss

We just returned from Savannah Clark’s home-going service: a celebration of life and the mourning of the tragic loss of a 17 year old gone too soon. How was it that someone that was such a light and encouragement in the lives of so many was herself plagued with never feeling good enough or loved enough?

As her youth pastor, Kieron Shape, elaborated, “We can’t belabor ourselves by asking, ‘Why weren’t we there? Why weren’t we aware?’ Instead we need to rest in the fact that the Good Shepherd was there.” Even though her peace was taken from her through deception, She was still redeemed for eternity. The Good Shepherd was imploring her not to be deceived, but the thief is masterful in trickery and destruction. Though Jesus came in through the front door, Savannah left the back door open, and that was where the enemy of our souls was able to reach her.

Savannah’s father, Ian Clark, even said, “I will never be the same.” He prayed that his heart would always remain broken so he would be softened to the needs of those around him. He admitted that this act was wrong and hurtful to all who love her. Though God himself was grieved by her decision, He was still there. (Heb 13:5 – I shall never leave you nor forsake you). Mr. Clark implored the young ladies in the church not to be swayed by the pull of the world and its focus on external beauty rather than the heart.

Walking away from this morning and reflecting on the past week, I’ve realized something very important:
We’re of no use to others unless we take care of ourselves
By no means am I saying to be selfish instead of selfless, but if we continue to pour out without being poured into, we will inevitably run out of steam. I heard an interview with Phil Vischer this morning on the radio. The founder of Big Idea and Veggie Tales, Phil was deemed one of the top 10 people to keep your eye on in global religion in 2000. By 2003, he had lost it all and found himself in bankruptcy court. To quote him directly, “I made the work I was doing for God more important than my relationship with God.” Because he was so busy with his ministry, his personal devotions suffered, his family suffered, his relationships suffered and ultimately, his company failed and because the noise of his life drowned out the quiet whisper of God. How can we ever expect to help others live a godly life unless we ourselves are sitting at the Master’s feet daily?

Our prayers go out to the entire Clark family and the church and friends that surround them. Savannah’s oldest sister, Brittany, works with Ricky and has even watched the kids for us. There are three surviving sisters and we pray they will follow the call to stand up and step out for God, even in this troubling time.