On the final day of 2014 our glorious Lord and Savior called home one of his finest, Lynn Oliphant. Wife to one man for 47 years, mother of 7, six of them boys, grandmother of I honestly lost count a while back, incredible host of a constant flow of people and impacter of souls too numerous to begin trying to count. She battled long. She battled hard. She lived well. She lived life really well. Her reward is great. Yet her work is not done. Not the work she has to do, but the impact she leaves behind. My own life was impacted by Lynn in ways I am certain that she never knew, and I regret not getting this small tribute to her before her passing. Nevertheless, it is a good a rightly exercise to express oneself and give honor to a woman who is worthy. This is a small thanks…
There are very few people one can and should point to in life when thinking about who one would like to emulate. I know that Lynn would somewhat blush and disagree at my saying it, but I have no problem in steering people in her direction when it comes to looking for examples of how to love people, love God, love family, laugh, host, impact people and so much more. While I did not know Lynn well, she has left an indelible impact upon my life. I came in a friend of Rob while at Texas A&M. I was perhaps just another in a long line of young people who hung out in the Oliphant kitchen and ate whatever masterpiece of making a meal feed 5000 Lynn happened to have on the stove. She always greeted me with the warmest of smiles, (Incidentally I think that is where Rob gets his fierce friendliness from), a strong embrace from her little frame and somehow a faith in our savior that was communicated by her mere presence. I felt it time and again. Here the faithful matron of the Oliphant clan, a life lived in complete faith to God and devotion to her husband and family. I never told her, but looking back I am guessing that was the secret ingredient in the corn bread. That’s the thing about her–about my friends the Oliphants. It doesn’t matter who you are, you are family. That house, no matter which one it was that I happened to walk through over the many years, that house was home. I was welcome. It is one of the reasons that we try to have people and students to our home. It is because the truth of the body of the gospel is clothed in the hospitality of the saints. I somehow picked that up through watching Lynn.
When I lost my own father, sitting there in the chapel among so many friends was Lynn and Buck. I regret that I never told her what that meant to me. I have tears streaming down my face as I type this knowing that the distance of the Atlantic Ocean restricts me from being there to give my dear friends an embrace and celebrate her incredible life with them. Yet, in some way, it is poetic justice. In many ways, I am overseas because Lynn lived her life the way she did. Her son Rob and I had so many conversations over the years about following Christ. We were iron sharpening iron. Such men are not developed in a vacuum. It is no chance that Rob helped to point me to Christ. He was just doing what Lynn had done his whole life. How many prayers did Lynn pray for her sons and their friends to follow God? And did she know that I was watching? Did she know that as I thought about the financial destitution I dreaded as a missionary, I was watching her live a life of humble means, impacting so many lives with the gospel and such joy that she and Buck became for me examples of people humbling living out incredible lives all for the sake of the gospel? Certainly not in my life, but I do know that she lived that way because she calculated that following Christ would bring so much joy than any temporal pleasure this life could offer. And that is what makes her life so great. She lived out what it means to live as Christ in Philippians 2. She considered others as more important than herself. I get a bit irritated when people talk about “selfless” living. It is a bit of Christian-Buddism. You see, we are SELFs. It is what you do with that self that matters. The choice is yours. Christ CHOSE to humble himself. He CHOSE to be obedient even to the point of death, even death on a cross. It is precisely because he knew who he was, where he came from and where he was going that he could take ALL of his self and throw it in to serving others. And to me, that is what Lynn did seemingly her entire life. She took every last bit of who she was, surrendered it to God her savior and threw herself into the service and love of other people. That is legacy. Surrounded by people who she impacted and those of us all over this globe, Lynn Oliphant had a life well lived.
There is a shortage of truly significant people in this world. Lynn lived that so many might know her sweet savior, she lived a life of significance. I know he and he alone made all the difference. Lynn, may you enjoy casting crowns at the feet of our Lord. Thank you for living the life you did. Thank you for living the faith you lived. Thank you for dying the death you died. You died well. You will rise again, in full glory, and to that day I look forward. This hope is sure, it is promised, it is secure. Thank you for your smile. It truly is a remarkable one.