Practice out-loving and out-giving
A popular reality TV show, where lies, deception, and self-centeredness are the rule, proudly boasts its slogan as “Outwit, Outplay and Outlast.” Representative of today’s culture that focuses on individual triumph at any cost, the heart of that maxim stands in stark contrast, especially in this Christmas season as we celebrate why Christ came to earth and what He taught: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Such unconditional love was lived out in the life of Betsy Teuton, who was called home to glory 13 October after faithfully serving the Lord with husband Hank at the United States Coast Guard Academy as the OCF field staff rep couple. Over the past four years since coming on staff, Betsy and Hank lavishly, bountifully funneled Christ’s love and His truth through them and into the lives of the cadets they discipled, mentored, encouraged and challenged toward growth as Christian military leaders.
Throughout her journey of the last couple years while resolutely fighting cancer, Betsy inspired hundreds, if not thousands, by how even on the darkest of days the love of Christ brightly glowed through her. Ever mindful of the cadets they had the privilege of serving, when asked how best to pray for them as they sojourned together through Betsy’s health battle, Betsy and Hank’s response was always to pray for the cadets, in particular, those they had not yet reached for Christ. But their hearts were heaviest for the cadets who had moved on in their careers and lives, asking others to pray they would stay in the faith.
Betsy Teuton’s final hours on earth was the unfolding of a beautiful love story as Hank and over 100 Coast Guard cadets, leaders, and friends streamed in and out of her hospital room, witnesses to Betsy’s impending birth into the heaven side of eternity. They sang worship songs; they spoke loving words of thanksgiving to her, for the gift she’d given them as mentor and friend. I believe the best testimony of Betsy’s eternal effect on so many was captured in a beautiful letter written by a cadet, which the young lady read aloud to Betsy that day, as excerpted here:
“Aside from God and my parents, no one has ever taken the time to know and love me as you do. I treasure our every meeting, learn from our every interaction, and marvel at how much God has used you to encourage, inspire, and change me and the other cadets at the Academy. Although I began Swab Summer sobbing, and I think both you and Mr. Teuton and my parents thought I would leave, you believed in me, prayed for me, and encouraged me. You chose to see me as God sees me, as a child of His He is preparing for good works which He prepared in advance for me to do. Although I still struggle with remembering this at times, you always teach and remind me to get God's perspective. Thank you for teaching me to love and reach out to others more. I long to be like you, Mrs. Teuton, to love and encourage someone as you do to me. I will and am continuing to work on improving my relationship with God by individual time with Him and taking the time to care for others. From seeing all the time you make to love people, Mrs. Teuton, and really get to know them, I recognize how essential it is to put God and loving people first. Thank you for your questions, your hugs, and your insight. You never fail to amaze me with your courage, kindness, and intuition. You are God's light in this dark world, and you have been used by him to begin casting out shadows in my heart so His light can shine forth from there too.”
Outwit, Outplay and Outlast? My wish for you this Christmas season is instead that you “Out Love and Out Give,” as Christ commands us and as Betsy Teuton demonstrated. Joyously serve your spouse, family, friends and neighbors; seek out ways to reach out to someone desperately needing to experience and feel Christ’s love, to be drawn into relationship with Him.
This is the way we fulfill the eternal promise represented by the little baby in the Bethlehem manger. This is the way we show our cynical world what it looks like to Out Love and Out Give.