Kingdom Women: Michelle Beckman, a Legacy of Love
This is part of an ongoing series on Kingdom Women—women God has used and is using in His great Kingdom endeavor. Michelle Beckman was such a woman. She left an amazing legacy of love.
My friend Michelle Beckman was one of the most loving, wisest women I have known. On August 10, after five years of struggling with cancer, she fled her earthly shell and entered into face-to-face fellowship with her Savior. Her legacy of love has touched thousands.
Last night our little church, of which she was an integral and transforming part, remembered her and honored her and her legacy of love, grace, truth, freedom, authenticity and prayer. We talked about what she meant to us and what we can learn from her and her walk with God, her life of sacrificial love and her beautiful model of how to die.
Rather than trying to describe her life and ministry to you, I’m going to let a few of the many she has ministered to tell how she impacted them. I am taking some liberty to quote from the hundreds of posts on her Caring Bridge site and Facebook page. Their words will give you a glimpse of the amazing legacy of love left by this true Kingdom Woman.
Cancer couldn’t detract from who she really was. A woman after God’s own heart. I got to know her when she began working with my kids when they were in high school. Leading them in Bible studies. Being a listening ear when they couldn’t–wouldn’t–talk to Mom. Encouraging them in truth. Tender in her exhortations. Always pointing them back to the gospel.
She had a gentle, compassionate way about her that helped those who knew her to feel loved and valued. She celebrated uniqueness and individuality. She cherished people for who they were. Authenticity meant something to her. She valued it. Lived it. Expected it from others.
She cared for, nurtured and loved scores of students as if they were her own children. They knew they’d hear truth from her, but they never questioned whether or not they’d be accepted. Michelle had a way of extending grace to others that made her a beautiful reflection of Jesus.
If Michelle was still here, she would sit with me through this mourning and listen and validate the pain, and she would ask, “Where do you see Jesus with you in all of this?”
I often struggle with thinking that God is up high looking down on me with arms crossed in disappointment or frustration shaking his head. One of the greatest ways Michelle continuously ministered to me was in combating that lie with the truth that Jesus is not removed and angry, but he is near and overflowing in loving compassion. Michelle was just like Jesus in that way, and I got to experience his love and nearness through her
Sometimes there are no words that can express the love I have for a person--Michelle Beckman is a person who will always have a special place in my heart. Words can't describe how much you meant to me--your wisdom, guidance, love, and comfort took me through some of the darkest times of my life. I'm so honored to have known you & been loved by you. And I'm so proud & envious of how you lived your life to the fullest no matter how many times cancer came back--you kept your eyes on the prize of Jesus.
My heart is breaking as I grieve the loss of the most amazing and inspiring woman I know… my mentor, my dear friend, my sister in Christ, Michelle Beckman. For many years, she endured pain and suffering as she battled cancer. Through it all, she remained strong in the Lord, was selfless, continued to minister and encourage others, loved deeply, and always praised God in everything….Thank you, Lord, for sharing Michelle with us and for pouring out your love for me and for so many through Michelle. I love and miss you dearly, Michelle. Until we meet again.
15 years ago almost to the day, a shy, insecure little 13-year-old girl walked into the big, scary world of high school. After attending my first after school Student Venture meeting, I met this woman named Michelle. When I returned for the next meeting, she greeted me with "Sheena! I'm so glad to see you! I've been praying for you!" and I thought "How weird! She doesn't even know me!" Little did I know that we would spend the next 15 years of our lives getting to know each other, loving each other, and praying for each other. Little did I know that, when she said "I've been praying for you!" that meant "Now that I know you, I will never stop praying for you."She has walked me through the deepest, darkest moments of my life, mourning and weeping tears when I couldn't, and celebrating and shouting "God is good! Allelu!" in the highest, most joyful moments. Oh, how I have treasured each and every moment with her as my mentor, mother, sister and friend.
Michelle: Our times together were about the unseen. More often than not, that looked like asking the well-loved question "How's your heart?", encouragement, tears and prayer.
I knew she was a safe place to be honest and broken, and I knew she loved authenticity and simply knowing me and my heart more deeply. We talked about the hard, the beautiful, the complex and painful things of the heart, of life. And the years that I shared with her had some of the hardest moments and seasons of my life to date. She didn't try to give me canned answers or fix it. She simply sat with me, listened, acknowledged the pain and always always always pointed me to the surpassing worth of knowing our Jesus and the intimacy with Him that comes with wrestling.
In my last face-to-face with Michelle we had a heart-to-heart conversation…reminisced about our roommate days and laughed about some of the pranks we pulled. Over the 25 years we have known each other we could always jump into real conversation, amazing prayer and "this is what I see God doing" in our lives. I will miss you deeply. My tears are in honor for a woman who loved and lived a life of faith.
Present suffering is gone and 'future' glory is now the present for you, my dear friend. I will miss you terribly, but am relieved you are now in the arms of your beloved.
I will still cry for days. You have always brought beautiful tears into my life, mostly because you have taught me to love fully, feel deeply and express authentically all that God is doing in me.
Michelle, you more than impacted my life, you turned everything I thought was true about Jesus upside down until I could see the transparent grace He extends to each and every one of us more clearly than ever before. You’ve always demonstrated with your life how to be genuinely broken and joyfully forgiven all at the same time. Your encouragement gave me the courage I needed to face myself at my darkest hour and come up from the depths of the pit clothed in the purity of His mercy and love.
Without your influence and inspiration in my life, I don’t even want to imagine where I would be or who I would be. I’m glad I don’t have to. Thank you, Michelle, for being you – the understanding, transparent, silly, funny, God-fearing, loving and caring you. I love you!
My best friend like a mother has passed into the gates of heaven and she has met her creator. I loved her with all my heart--she's the one who brought me even closer to Christ and taught me about him. Three weeks ago I went to go see her and we cried together--tears of sadness and joy. I can't wait till the day I meet her and my creator in heaven. I know she will be waiting for me.
Mixed emotions today as I read the news on my feed that my dear, beloved teacher and friend has passed away. She was the best sort of teacher. One who loved deeply and led by example. I hope to be like her.
"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things... Let's celebrate together!'" Matthew 25:21
My amazing, kind, beautiful mentor, friend and sister is now rejoicing and celebrating in the presence of our Creator!!
She loved others so well, she walked with others and spoke truth. She exuded Jesus and was an incredible leader and example to me and my family. Now she is Home, Healed from cancer and Happy in the arms of The Father. She is dancing and experiencing a joy we all long for. Thank you dear friend for the years of love, spoken truth and investing in my heart. I will miss our texts, calls, laughs and hugs. I love you!!!
Yesterday I told the girls the news of your passing. Grace and Halle immediately welled up in tears, but then a huge smile broke out across Grace's face. "She's with Jesus!!!"
Gloria said, "I don't have any tears. I'm sad but I'm also really happy for her."
When I think of you, Beckman, I think of the ripple effect. I think of you as a pebble thrown into the water. Look at all the people you influenced! May we have the same effect on people as Michelle had on us!.. Genuinely and authentically loving those around us.
When I think of you, Beckman, I think of your intimate walk with God. You helped me to see God as a Daddy.. One who genuinely and lovingly cares for His daughter.
When I think of you, Beckman, I recall the time you taught me to stop "shoulding" on myself and on others. At the time I was exhausted from life, ministry, and relationships. But these words, rooted in God's grace, gave life.When I think of you, Beckman, I think of my girls. You desired to not grow old and cranky. You embraced the joy, the squeals, the mismatched and nonsensical.. It brought a smile to your face and you joined in the fun. That was God right there. You looking down on my girls with such adoration is the same way our Father looks down on us. What a beautiful picture of His love for us.
My heart breaks and yet rejoices at the same time knowing that Michelle is now with Jesus. Michelle has been one of the most influential people in my life. I have known her since high school and she has shown me what it looks like to follow Jesus, to live in grace and how to listen to Gods voice. She never gave up on me and was my constant encourager. She has left a legacy that will live on for generations. Thank you Michelle for loving me, believing in me and living life with me. You will be missed. Love you!
Jill (who cared for Michelle in her last weeks):
I want to give you a small glimpse into Michelle's last day. Tuesday was a very long day. Michelle was slowing down in her eating and was having a harder time swallowing due to shortness of breath. A hospice nurse gave her a bed bath and she literally never recovered. Her breathing became very labored and her sister and I spent the rest of the day trying to help her stay comfortable.
Her oxygen levels started dropping significantly, her fingernails were purple and her lips were pale. We spent about 2 hours reading Scripture and we listened to a couple of worship songs. At 8:30 pm she reached her arms out to sit up. We pulled her up and she made a heart with her hands and put it on her chest. Then she laid down and that was the last that she really responded. The rest of the night was trying to get her calm from being very agitated. I continued calling hospice to see what to do next, I continued giving her drugs all through the night and at about 4:15 am I fell asleep lying beside her on her bed. At 5:00 the Lord woke me up as Michelle took a very deep breath. I yelled for her sister as I watched three labored breaths. Deniese ran in and saw her last 2 or 3 breaths and we rejoiced that she finally went home. With tears we told Michelle, "You are home!" "You are a beautiful bride. You have met your bridegroom." "Tell mom and dad hi!" "No more pain! No more cancer." "Michelle. We love you. You are free!"
Michelle met her best friend, the One she devoted her life to and the lover of her soul. Michelle breathed her last breath at 5:04 this morning. A friend put it so well: "505 was her first full minute of beholding the face of Jesus--the One she absolutely adored. Michelle, you lived well. You loved well and you were loved by more people than anyone I know! We love you!
Michelle, we miss you terribly—everyone who knew you. We honor you for your well-run race, your faithful service, your extravagant grace, your God-breathed wisdom, your humble spirit, your legacy of love. Thank you. And we rejoice with you that are resting in the arms of the Savior.
C2016 Judy Douglass
For those whose quotes I borrowed for this, I hope you don’t mind. If you would rather I remove yours, please let me know.
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