“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”

Daniel 12:3

Working on our new outdoor digital sign at church this past week the Lord put in my mind the words from Daniel 12:3 which caused me to stop and ponder the statement, “Diamonds reflect light but stars radiate light from within.” My first thought was God knew exactly what He meant when the prophet Daniel penned those words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to describe those whose lives are lived sharing the love of Jesus with others. My second thought was its no wonder that today, on what would have been the thirty-fourth birthday of Danielle Marie Gould that her life is still shinning as brightly as ever. I thought, if she was here with us today I would put her picture on the digital sign along with the words, “Happy Birthday Danielle” knowing she would have gotten a kick out of it seeing her name in lights. What I can’t do for her today as heaven is now her home I can do in honor of her. All those driving down Ashe Road today get the chance to see a picture of her beautiful face and know today is her 34th birthday.

If you didn’t know Danielle, she was a star in every sense of the word. She radiated happy as much as our sign lights up the sky. Though only seventeen when she left this earth for heaven, her life was full. They say that the two greatest days in a persons life are the day they are born and the day they discover why. Danielle may have been young but she was wise beyond her years for the simple fact that she understood the call of God upon her life to live for Him. There was no doubt that Danielle was committed to her relationship with God. She studied her bible regularly, she prayed faithfully for her friends that didn’t know Jesus and she looked for opportunities to share her love for Jesus with them. So passionate about her walk with Jesus she journaled frequently what the Lord was showing her as she sought to know Him and make Him known. She even would write down the names of her friends and family that she was praying for, watching one by one as the Lord moved in the lives of her friends as they began their own journey of faith.

Yes, Danielle lived one extraordinary life so its only fitting on her birthday to remember her and thank Jesus for the seventeen years we had her here with us. You might not ever get your face put on a billboard for all the world to see but what’s more important is you can live a life that shines for Jesus each time you share His life and love with others. And what’s even better still is God says that those who are wise and turn others to righteousness will shine like the stars forever. Danielle is living proof all these years later. Her life still shines in our memories of her as she could light up a room just by walking in.

As I think about Danielle today I am reminded of a story I read this past week about Bernie who was the director of the Institute for Child Behavior Research. He conducted a study where he concluded that the happiest people in the world are the humblest people in the world. Each person in the study involved was asked to list 10 people that they knew best and label them “happy or unhappy”. So you think of 10 people you know and label them individually “happy or unhappy”. Then you take the same list and go through it again and this time label each one as either “selfish or unselfish”. The definition for selfishness is described this way, "A stable tendency to devote one's time and resources to one's own interests and welfare and unwillingness to inconvenience oneself for others."

In categorizing the results, Rimland found that all of the people labeled happy were also labeled unselfish. And he wrote, "Those whose activities are devoted to bringing themselves happiness are far less likely to be happy than those whose efforts are devoted to making others happy.” Danielle was one who enjoyed making others happy and even though we miss her like crazy on her birthday our hearts are happy for the time God gave us to share with her. Do you desire more happy in your life today? Want to shine like the stars in the heavens? Take God at His Word. Share the life and love of Jesus with those you come in contact with today. You will be so glad you did.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16


Michael Osthimer





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