Few people are able to make such a sizable impact and touch lives in both the secular world as well as the faith-based community, but one woman was successful in doing just that, the late country music singer and song writer, Joey Feek. Prior to the past few weeks, when her touching story became headline entertainment news, those who knew her intimately would attest to the fact that she embodied a wife, mother, and friend that truly loved like Jesus and whose goal was to bring glory to Him. She and husband, Rory, started their lives together 14 years ago in a humble Nashville barn, and now he and their youngest daughter will live out their lives in that same barn as Joey begins eternity in Heaven.
With success on reality television in 2008 that propelled them to the spotlight, an ACM award, multiple albums, and a Grammy nomination this past year, many would have traded their humble roots and simple living for bright lights, but not Joey+Rory. They saw a bigger picture that moved beyond Hollywood, Grammy’s, and platinum albums, they saw eternity and making a difference in the lives of others. They remained grounded in the Lord and others noticed.
As Joey’s cancer progressed in the recent months, and despite growing pain and higher doses of medication, Joey pressed on to be present for a huge milestone, the second birthday of her youngest daughter, Indiana. When Indiana was born and diagnosed with Downs Syndrome shortly after birth, Joey said, “We trusted that God would give us the baby He wanted us to have…and He has. Out of all the parents in the world, He has chosen for us to care for and raise this special gift.” Their love for the Lord was put into action as they joyfully embraced their newest daughter and all the gifts that came with her.
Throughout her diagnosis and treatment, Joey chose, “Not to die. But to live,” explains Rory on his blog This Life I Live. “To put our hands in each other’s and sit out on the back porch and watch the sun set as our sweet little girl plays on a blanket in front of us. To bask in the glory of the beautiful life He’s blessed us with, and try not to question why we can’t have more of it together.” Joey & Rory loved each other with a fairytale like love and trusted the Lord with each of their days together. They saw the incredible gift they were given with each other and never let a day pass without saying I love you.
Despite looking at her own ever-nearing death, her focus was on her unsaved father. “I told my dad, ‘I would go through all of this again, if that meant one person came to Christ because of it. The fact that my daddy did, Dad, I would do it all over. I’m so proud of you. When I die, I’m going to be looking for you. And I want you to know, that after you hug my brother (Justin, who died in a car accident in 1994), I’m going to be next in line.” She knows that her entire family will now be able to celebrate eternal life with each other in Heaven. Her thoughts and actions were always focused on others, even up to her final days.
God’s word tells us that each of our days are numbered. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow but it’s up to us to choose how we will live today. And as Joey demonstrated, we control our attitude as we go through each day, regardless of our circumstances. We can choose to love others unselfishly as Jesus did, even when He knew His days were coming to an end, or we can choose to get angry and wallow in our self-pity. Most likely, our response will not change the outcome of our circumstance, but it will have a significant impact on our attitude in the midst of it. So as we consider our lives and the people we interact with, what conscious choice could you make today to love more like Jesus? Will you leave a legacy of loving others in the midst of life’s unexpected turns?