Most of you didn’t have the opportunity of hanging out with my brother Matt. You really missed out. A coworker at the sandwich shop he worked at once told me “Matt is so good that you can’t be around him and not have it wear off on you” It was true. He made me better every single day of his life.
After he was diagnosed with cancer, he pressed into Jesus unlike anything I’ve ever seen. He carried the sweetness and the presence of God with him such that I wanted to weep in the beauty of God’s presence when around him. While I spent most of the time he was sick unable to face the reality of what was occurring, he faced it head on and trusted God completely. It wasn’t a demanding faith. It was a faith that came with ease. He didn’t tell God how to best prove his love for him. His faith was just sweet, simple and firm. He was 19. The Godliest man I knew. He planned to be a preacher, a proclaimer of the gospel and I needed him desperately. So in my mind, the Lord allowing him to die in spite of the thousands praying and believing for his healing, his hours of healing scripture reading a day simply didn’t compute. It was impossible. Why talk about it? My Mom urged me to spend more time with him, love him better in that season. After all, he was the other half of me, the better half. We were closer than any other brother and sister I have seen before or since.
In May, after going to a family wedding my brother walked into my room and told me that the doctors had said he had about two weeks to live. They informed him that he was covered in stage four cancer and there was nothing more they could do. He still believed for healing, but had spent the morning planning a memorial service for himself. He asked me what my favorite praise and worship songs were so that we could sing them. I could not believe the resolve and the sheer confidence inside of him. There was not a trace of fear in his eyes. With tears pouring down my face as I looked at him sitting on the edge of my bed, where he had sat late into the night most of my life, talking about heaven, the bible, or something ridiculous. I listened to him talk about stepping into eternity. I asked him, “Matt, are you afraid to die?” He said, “You know Stace, we’ve always gone everywhere together and it just makes me sad to think about going somewhere without you, but I’m not scared.” I couldn’t even process that statement, the love, the boldness of it. He hugged me and told me things I will hold dear for all of my life- that I was a treasure, that whatever man got me was blessed.
A few nights afterwards I was up late watching a movie by myself. The movie was about Apollo 13. I was stirred as I watched. It was the scene where hope is slipping away. The men are going to die, there’s no way around it. Their leader walks in and begins to talk about how the world is watching and this will not be the place where they fail, instead this is going to be their finest hour… when they will bring the best of them together for the sake of the world. Immediately, those words were written on my heart, for Matt, for us- regardless of the outcome- this was going to be our finest hour. Matt and I sobbed as I told him what the Lord had written on my heart and I can tell you with all certainty, that while the world might not be able to fully recognize it, it was indeed our finest hour.
Matt died in August of that year, many months after his two weeks had come and gone. It was a Sat morning. He was wearing his favorite St Louis Cardinals shirt with all the people who loved him most in the world standing around him, he walked into eternity. There was such indescribable excitement in the room that day that I will never be able to convey as long as I live. It was almost like being in the room when a baby is born. The color faded from his lips, a smile and peace I’ve never seen washed over his face. He was healed, he was whole. He wasn’t sad. It was truly his finest hour. His trust, his love for God had grown by the day, until it radiated from his being.
I don’t know what the next few months or weeks will hold for me. I don’t know what’s going on with my body. I could spend every moment between now and whenever I know speculating- but there’s no need for that. Because, whatever it is- it’s something God can fix. There’s no name or season I have to fear, because you see, this is going to be my finest hour. I don’t have to be afraid to move into the next season of my life, as long as I know my best friend Jesus is coming along with me. Regardless of what the devil has planned for me, I fully intend to use this time waiting for my healing, falling more and more in love with Jesus, proclaiming his goodness in the season of brokenness when nothing but him makes sense. I’ve been given the opportunity to shine for Jesus in a different way than ever before. I’m grateful and I plan to make the most of it. Whatever season of life, whatever challenge you currently face, I ask you to join me, in committing to make the most of this chance to shine for Jesus in a new way. Together, this will be our finest hour.