“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. ” Proverbs 27:1
Many people I come in contact with share similar experiences. We share feelings of love, kindness, empathy, sorrow, fear, hope and happiness. We share stories of dreams, struggles and victories. We also know we were created in the image of an amazing God who designed a specific plan and purpose for our life. While we are all different each in our own special way, we are also very much alike.
When I was teaching, I remember chatting with a student of mine who was graduating in just a few short months. She was so excited because she was accepted into her college of choice and was ready to grow up, get a college education, a real job and start a family. At 18 years old she had her entire life planned out. In fact, she was so focused on her future that she lost focus of the present. Her younger brother was a freshman and while I didn’t have him as a student, I knew of him because of what she shared. It was nearing the end of the school year and news became public that a freshman boy overdosed on prescription medications. It wasn’t fatal thank God but this student had left a suicide note next to the bottle of pills where his dad found him laying unconscious on his bedroom floor. This young boy happened to be the younger brother of my student. When I asked her if she had any idea that her brother was having such a hard time, her response was, “I guess I was just so focused on being done with high school I didn’t even pay attention. I had no clue he was struggling so bad.”
How many of us can share a story similar that reflects a time in our life when a situation stops us in our tracks and makes us re-evaluate our priorities? In fact, if you haven’t had something similar happen, I would venture to guess you live in a bubble. We are constantly being bombarded with obstacles that often times seem unresolvable and unexplainable. In fact, the challenges seem to be the most difficult when you are the most focused. I believe it is the enemy’s way of deterring us from God’s purpose. Unfortunately, many people break under the pressure and give up. They think that by giving in to failure, they are protecting themselves from future opposition and struggle. There are many things that are unpredictable, that I don’t understand and can’t explain but there are a few absolutes that I do know for sure; none of us are getting out of here alive and we will always be faced with obstacles no matter how significant or insignificant we choose to live our lives.
I recently heard this story about a 17-year-old boy who has changed lives (mine included) because of his story and his choice to live a life of significance in the face of impending death. This story moved me to tears and I would hope his legacy is worth 22 minutes of your time. Check it out:
When I heard that Zach passed away just two days ago on May 20th, 2013 at the age of 18 it took my breath away. We watch this video of this happy, talented, positive teenager, so full of life and love and knowing throughout the video that his condition is terminal, we want to believe that his story will be different. That it won’t end like every other story. He will be the exception and the miracle we desperately want to hear about. But he wasn’t, he was taken too soon and left this earth like all of us eventually will. As I was listening to Zach speak, I was so inspired by his strength during what most people would define as the most difficult time of one’s life.
What makes Zach so different from the rest of us is Zach made the decision to live even when he knew he was going to die. But what I found most inspiring was the fact that Zach didn’t just need a death sentence to finally start living, he never stopped living from the day he was born. So in his mind, at 17 years old he had lived a full life and had closure. He said he wanted to spend his last months making others happy and offering whatever he could to his loved ones so that they would have things to remember him by. How many of us, today, can say that if God took us tomorrow and we were shown the last few months of our life, that we would have peace and closure on how we lived it?
I will be the first to admit that I wouldn’t. It is when we hear stories such as this that we are again reminded to re-examine the way in which we are living our life. Benjamin Franklin said, “most people die at 25 and wait until 75 to be buried.” If life is so short, then why are so many people taking it for granted?
Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille talk about the five laws of decline in their bestseller, Leadershift. With that they explain the 90/10 concept of Sturgeon’s Law. That with anything 90% (or the majority) is crud and the remaining 10% is good. In leadership, George Guzzardo says that 90% of the people are not performing up to their true potential and 10% of the people are. And in life I believe 90% of the people are coasting through life just trying to make it to death safely, while the remaining 10% are choosing to live a life of significance and purpose. The question I have is, do you want to be part of the 90% or part of the 10%? As it has been said, none of us are getting out of here alive. But all of us have been given the gift of life. In the words of Zach Sobiech, “You don’t have to find out you are dying in order to start living.”
In remembrance of a courageous and inspiring teenager – R.I.P Zach – may we all strive to live as you lived.
“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14