If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I lost one of my close friends, David Wilder, to throat and neck cancer at age 49 back in late March. I can’t believe it’s already been over six months since he died. As with most grief, it takes on a different feel after the passage of some time.
In the interim, I have had some weeks when I could think of David and not feel the pain as sharply, but I don’t think I have had many days pass without thinking of him at all.
Yesterday, I made the mistake of thinking a little too long about the video they showed at his life celebration, and I had to stop and cry for a bit. I realize that “mistake” may not be the right word, but you get the jist of what I’m saying, I hope.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I felt strongly led to participate in starting a new church in nearby Georgetown after David passed away. I had prayed extensively about this, and I felt that God was telling me that this was the way to impact more lives for Jesus, which is what David excelled at during his life. I never saw anyone who could present the gospel as persuasively and lovingly as he did. He usually had a gleam in his eye when talking to someone who wanted to argue, as if to say, “You may not get it yet, but you will.”
I am one of the people helping to determine the best place for our church to meet come next spring, when we are likely to outgrow our current smaller facility. I did a presentation on Sunday for everyone detailing the places that the pastor and I had visited, and our “top three” options, all of which are middle schools. When I was speaking, I felt like David was there with me. Maybe he was.
Recently, I was speaking to a friend of mine who said something that stuck with me when we were discussing both faith and church:
“My family and I haven’t been attending anywhere, but Jason, I feel like if I hang around you, I will end up back at church.”
This is a big compliment for me, since in my personal life I often feel like Paul from 1 Timothy 1:15:
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst.”
When my friend and I were parting ways, I said something that I heard David say hundreds of times to me – “God bless ya, man!”
I realize that it may seem like a short and simple phrase, but it was something I picked up from David. Hearing his words and inflection coming from my own mouth (and yes, maybe even a tinge of his northern accent) made me realize what a lasting impact he had on me.
I walked to my car and started it, ready to leave. As I was about to put the car in gear, it hit me. The song on the radio was one of David’s favorites, “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey. I don’t believe in coincidences (which my friend used to call “God incidences”). It felt a little like God was patting me on the back right then, and the feeling of His presence was palpable.
As I said back when David left us, I hope to be someone who picks up the torch that he was carrying, choosing to live each day looking for opportunities to spread the love of Jesus. ActiveRain has given me a rather large platform to reach others, and I don’t want to squander my opportunity.
If you are interested in reading some of my thoughts as I walked through Dave’s illness and death, here are some of the posts I wrote back then: