According to his parents May 19, 2011, was a Tuesday, it was the day they lost their first son and it was a day that his brother had the hardest time writing his blog, Tuesday’s Torch, but he wrote it anyway. He wrote it dutifully, beautifully and eloquently for 9 years. He wrote it to spread light and salt across the earth and he accomplished those feats that so many who are called to minister and/or write seek-he touched people-he loved people with his words-he met them where they were and lifted them up.
Today, I am resonating with my friend’s difficulty on that day in 2011 as I try to find the letters on my keyboard through my tears. Yesterday, I said goodbye to him along with his parents and his wife. The day before I stood between his parents and across the bed from his wife and prayed one more of 1000s of prayers lifted in the last few days by the 1000s of people who love Tim. Yesterday, it was a different prayer with a roomful of broken-hearted loved ones as we all asked God to welcome his mighty warrior and faithful servant to dance with Him in Heaven.
It was just this past Sunday that our pastor, Jenn Williams, talked to us about legacy. She joked that her sermon was not “the old people’s sermon” and her message was around living and loving people as if you were leaving a legacy all the days of your life, not just as you get old and gray and supposedly wise. Tim is the epitome of this. I didn’t need to be in a room full of greaving people last night to know that my friend, who never got to be old and gray, but was most certainly wise, was living and loving his legacy every day. Let me tell you a bit more about the man I knew.
Tim was all the “regular” sorts of things: son, brother, husband, friend and follower of Jesus, but there was nothing “regular” about Tim. Tim’s heart and soul outshined his body. Tim and his brother battled muscular dystrophy. When I say battled, from my limited view, that is what it appeared to be, a body degrading and betraying its owner until you can’t move, then you can’t eat and then, well you get it… If you met Tim, and I’m sorry if you never got the chance here on earth, you would have met a man who did not surrender easily or willingly to his enemy.
In fact, Tim gave no purchase to any enemies whether that be the very corporeal, tangible, in your face disease he wrestled with or the spiritual forces that told him to give up, give in, be less than who he was created to be. No sir, not my brother, that is why I asked yesterday for God to welcome a mighty warrior into his arms. Tim may have been bound to a wheelchair, but he found a way to leap into people’s lives. He may have had to take gulps of air from a straw between sentences, but he fought to get God’s message out to the world, he may have had to roll down the aisle to marry his bride, but he loved her more abundantly and passionately than any muscle rippled star of stage or screen, I witnessed Tim’s incredible friendship first hand and second hand. I saw him lift and inspire people to be more and to do more. I saw him help people back from the depths of despair and the brink of throwing it all away. I saw him love people in his family and in his church and among his friends that were hard to love, returning again and again with his peaceful, patient heart and gentle prodding wisdom to welcome them back like prodigal sons and daughters.
No, Tim was no regular guy, he was extraordinary and maybe his soul was just too big and bright for any fragile body to handle? We don’t know, we don’t have any of these answers. All we know is what Tim reminded us of. Those lucky enough to be in his orbit just peripherally like me and those lucky and smart enough to be even closer to him, that got to live with his legacy every day, know that this man was a gift to us. Because he intentionally built a legacy while he was here with us, part of that gift is still here in his blog. Tim wanted people to read his blog and learn the lessons he learned, both from his battles with his disease and his incredible love story with his beautiful wife Sammy. So please read it, not as a favor to me or to him, but as a favor to yourself. Get to know this man that I was lucky enough to get to know just a little over a few short years. You won’t be sorry.
Here is what Tim says about his Torch.
My blog has a similar theme as does the legacy that I am trying to live and love out loud. I call it the 4 Ls to Live By and Soar By Light, Love, Leadership, and Laughter. Tim gave me all of these things every time we met, messaged, emailed, lead, played or prayed together. Sammy paid me the honor of saying that I was Tim’s “bromance” of late. I happen to know I am not alone in that and Tim just made everyone feel like they were special. Tim had a “bromance” with humanity. That is his legacy. That is the torch he wants us all to not only see but pick up and light the way for others just as his Lord and Saviour did for him, just as He does for us. Tim was a good and faithful servant indeed and we love him so very much.
Tim, to paraphrase one of my very favorite “(deceptively not the) end of the bromance” lines: I have been, and forever shall be your friend, may your torch burn long and prosper.
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That was really inspiring John. Wish I got to meet him.
Beautifully said, John. Thank you for capturing the gift Tim was to all of us who were fortunate to encounter him in this life!
Thank you Jenn for helping me learn to appreciate the gift that he was better than I ever could have before I met either of you.