This past weekend, I traveled to Austin, Texas for the funeral of a good friend. Wade and I became friends our freshman year of college. He was smart, outgoing, funny and always full of life. After college, he married Debra, and God blessed them with three wonderful children. Unfortunately, about two and a half years ago, Wade was diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct. Treatments, surgeries, and chemo followed. The cancer spread to his liver. He fought valiantly, but then, about twelve days ago, Wade went home to be with Jesus.As Wade underwent treatment, I began noticing him doing some things differently.
We have a group of college friends that get together once a year. Whether at a lake house or for a college football game, our times together are filled with laughter and stories. We stay up and talk until early in the morning. Our conversations move from the outlandish to the deep waters of life. Wade was always a deep thinker – and over the past few years, he was the one who would move us there.
Whether we found our group in a beautiful outdoor place around a campfire or even in the middle of a kitchen, sitting on counter tops, eating queso and telling stories, I would sometimes notice Wade walk away from us for a moment. He would stare out a window or walk up a small hill, turn his eyes toward the sky, lean his head back and breathe in deeply. Then, he would come right back and pick up where he left off – laughing and being a part of us all.
Sometimes, in talking with people who have learned they are terminally ill, a difference in perspective becomes quite noticeable. They tend to “drink deeply” – pull away and embrace each moment. They tend to appreciate the little things that most of us so often miss and they have a greater awareness of the beauty that is around us all the time in life. This was Wade.
During one of the last trips together, Wade noticed my Rolling Hills shirt. Through our times together, Wade knew the story of God’s work at our church, and he had been a great prayer warrior and big supporter throughout the journey. That day Wade was wearing one of his favorite shirts from Marfa, Texas – a cool, artsy, small town where he loved to go and “drink deeply.” It was the last place he took his family. A special place where he connected with God and felt so alive with those dear to him. In a moment of sheer love, Wade simply pulled off his Marfa t-shirt and handed it to me, saying, “I want you to have this as you pray for me, and I want your shirt as I pray for you.” It was a God-ordained, holy moment where Wade expressed his heart and gave his love. A moment I will never forget and a shirt I continue to wear for my friend.
I want to learn from Wade. I want to live this way. I want to be a man who drinks deeply of life and embraces each moment. I want to focus on a God who loves me, knowing that I am not promised tomorrow. I want to love my God, my family, and my friends well. I want to let go of the little things and hold on to the things that really matter. And, I want to be generous – to give the shirt off my back both literally and figuratively. To give, love, pray and bless those around me. I want to be “fully alive.”
Here’s what I know – Wade is more alive today than ever before. He has traded in his worn-out, cancer-filled body for an eternal body that will never wear out. He is home with his Savior, Jesus Christ, his brother and others that he loved and lost on while on this earth. He is laughing, telling stories, worshipping and, I bet, even pulling away from the group for a moment to lean his head back, look toward his Father, and drink deeply of the moment. One day, through Christ, we will all live in the glory of heaven “fully alive,” but for now, what if we can all decide to live in the grace of Christ on this earth “fully alive.” Wade made the most of his 47 years. It is not the number of years we have on this earth, but what we do with them. Wade truly lived immeasurably more.
Are you? Are you drinking deeply of the moments around you? Are you loving your God, your family, and your friends? Are you generous with your blessings, your prayers, your heart? Why not make the change now? You are alive for a reason and purpose. Don’t get distracted. Don’t miss what God is doing around you. Embrace each day and each moment. None of us know how long we have on this earth, but for whatever time we have here, let’s make the most of it. Let’s drink deeply and let’s endeavor, for the glory of God, to live “fully alive.”