Today the world lost a great guy. His name is Brad and he was 18 years old. He lived his life with a muscle condition that left him pretty limited in mobility. When he got a cold or something that would be simply a nuisance to most of us, it was easily life-threatening for Brad. This morning, after fighting one of these illnesses for the last three weeks, Brad went to be with the Lord.
I didn't know Brad very well--but I admired him. I watched him smile his way through church on Sundays, and fight his way through life. A few memories of Brad stand out as I think of him tonight:
* I fondly remember him standing with his walker, serving as an usher, handing out bulletins on Sundays, in spite of how hard it was for him to do so.
* I remember enthusiastic games of "pass the pigs" on a high school retreat. Brad had a knack for rolling the big ones...and was quite proud of it as well.
* It warmed my heart to see some of our students learn how to help Brad physically so he could participate in youth group meetings. He gave so much to them by sharing his needs and sharing his friendship.
Brad didn't complain, at least not that I heard. He couldn't do everything and he was at peace with that it seemed. I'm sure he had his days, his moments where he wished everything was different--but they didn't sour his outlook on life. He readily gave a smile to anyone who needed one.
In 2008, I was asked to be the speaker at our High School retreat--and I gladly accepted. I prepared four talks with the overarching theme of contentment. I was ready to address how to be content in spite of circumstances (and ready to share the story of losing my son), being content with how God made us, and content with the relationships in our lives. I prepared on and off for months, and knew God had given me the topic.
Then, I learned that Brad was going to be able to come. I was so glad he would be there! And then I imagined teaching what God gave me to teach with him there. This young man whose body didn't work well, who has lived with frustration and pain that wouldn't likely go away in this life--that is who I am going to urge to be content?
Because of Brad--I was forced to ask myself once again if I really believed what I was about to teach. Was it Truth? If it's Truth, then it's true for Brad too. As I wrestled with it all...God strengthened my faith and convictions. I thank Brad for that.
And do you know what became evident as the weekend went on? He might have been one of the most content people in attendance. He taught us. He taught me.
As my friend Beth put in her Facebook status, "I would say rest in peace, Brad, but the truth is, I bet he's running around like a crazy person on perfectly healthy legs in a perfectly healthy body, not resting." I couldn't agree more with her sentiment.
Well done, Brad.