My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Every time I hear this song, sing this song, or the words cross my mind, I think of Evangelyna.  Vangie was a classmate of mine in college who had an incredible voice, was a wonderful actress, and who had a glittering career ahead of her.  My senior year, a quartet of singers, including Vangie, sang a beautiful a capella rendition of this song during the first chapel service of the year.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I was not a close friend of Vangie’s, but yet I knew her from afar.  I always loved seeing her act, and hearing her sing.  No one would ever guess from her outward appearance that she had cancer.  She had entered Gordon one year ahead of me, but her sickness had caused her to be on track to graduate with my class.  Vangie was always a bright ray of sunshine on campus, and it seemed like even the birds would stop to listen to her sing when the windows were open and she was practicing.  On September 11, 2011, Evangelyna was called home to be with the Lord.  She was 21 years old.  I will never forget the morning when our chaplain announced the news at the beginning of chapel.  I don’t have a clue what the speaker then said, or who it was.  All I remember was the hollow feeling of loss, and shock.  Because just days before, she had stood at the front of the chapel and sung these words:

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Evangelyna praised God until the day He took her home.  She was a bright light for Him in this world, and has continued to be so in her death.  Vangie sang those words, knowing that she would soon be facing her Maker.  When she sang those words, she knew the cancer was back and that there was nothing more the doctors could do.  When she sang that she would praise thee as long as thou lendest her breath, it was truer then than ever before.  And I have to believe that when she sang this next verse, she was looking forward to hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Kristen-headshotKristen Entwistle is a graduate student pursuing her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at Michigan State University.  After graduating with her PhD, Kristen hopes to teach biochemistry at a small liberal arts college.  A member of Red Cedar Evangelical Free Church, she helps to lead worship on Sunday mornings and leads a women’s Bible study on Saturday mornings.  She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was three months old, and has seen God work through the ups and downs of life and through her disease.  In response to God's calling, Kristen started All For Him, a ministry seeking to encourage and challenge women of all ages in Christ.  
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Twitter: @swimmingforhim