What difference can one life make? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
The author of James reminds us that we are but a vapor that lasts for a moment. Nevertheless, a vapor can make a difference. It can provide a moment of heat for a world. Some of us live lives not realizing the future that awaits us. We do not realize that we will have left this world either dragging it down or making it better. People will remember us after we are gone. We will either leave them for the better or the worse. The question is not “Will we make an impression?” The question is “What kind of impression will we make?”
Many of us believe we will have a long life. As it stands, I have lived on this Earth for 32 years now. My wife has lived for 22 years. We are fortunate for those years. My grandmother died two years ago as her time had come. My own parents are around the age of 60 at the moment. I live next door to an aunt and uncle that I have known from birth who are my grandmother’s sister and her husband. I can think about when I was about to have surgery shortly before I turned 16, my youth minister at the time was having his first child and now she is a little past the age I was at that time. I look on Facebook and see people I went to school with and realize how much has changed.
How much time do I have? I do not know. Being a husband now, it is something I think about often. How long will I be around to provide for my wife? In some ways, I realize it is harder for me since I am nearly 10 years older than she is. Still, I want to make the most of the time that I have left. I look sometimes at all the books I want to read and all the subjects that I want to learn and realize there is so much. One thing you learn in apologetics after awhile, as is most likely in any field of knowledge, is not what you know, but how much you don’t know. You can look and wonder if you will reach your goal and if you do, then what? What all does it mean? Will you have left this world having made a difference?
What if I told you you had seventeen years to live? What would that mean to you? Many of us as youth would think such a thought preposterous. We are young and invincible. No one really makes a plan to die early like that, but the sad reality is that several do. There are tragedies in this world. We seem to realize that such events in an ideal world would not happen, but they do. This world is not ideal. That is why we must all make an effort to make it better.
Jonathan Dileo was one who did.
What is Jonathan’s story? Jonathan was a happy kid who loved Christ and Christian apologetics. He was a great fan of William Lane Craig. I got to know him through TheologyWeb where he was a beloved member. In my position, I often served as a mentor type for men growing up in the field and have sought to be that. It is not just my hope to teach them how to be good apologists, but even more so, I want to teach them how they are to be good men. Jonathan and I formed a fast friendship.
At one point in his school, his class had readings of “Tuesdays With Morrie.” They were stories about a man talking to another, Morrie, who was dying, and gaining his wisdom. The students were told to find a wiser person they considered a Morrie and talk with them for an hour at a time on various topics. I was very surprised one day when Jonathan messaged me on AIM and asked me to be his Morrie. It was a thrill and when that time came, I dropped everything and focused for an hour. We talked about so many different topics. Love, death, the perfect day. I got to see Jonathan’s reports and thoroughly enjoyed them.
Then tragedy came.
Jonathan was found to have a cancerous brain tumor.
Four months later, he was gone.
I won’t deny to you, I feel a great sadness rising up inside of me as I write this. Jonathan was a bright light and then that light was extinguished.
Or was it?
As said, a vapor can leave a bit of heat. Some of us leave more behind than we realize.
Before he died, Jonathan was visited by the Make-A-Wish foundation and asked to make a wish. Let’s be honest. Most of us would want to meet a celebrity or go to Disneyworld or be in the audience of a TV show or something like that.
Most of us are just selfish like that.
Jonathan had already done mission work.
Jonathan’s wish was for a water system to be built for the Mbuya Nehanda Children’s home, an orphanage in Melfort Zimbabwe.
That vapor is still giving off its heat.
The world is a bit warmer because of it.
Today, his parents have set up “Jonathan’s Impact”, a ministry dedicated to fulfiling the dream of Jonathan. The irrigation system he wanted is up and running, but more is being done to make sure that orphanage, and I’m sure several more, have what they need. Today, many children are able to have growing crops and good water because of the dying wish of Jonathan.
Today, lives all over the world are changed because of one boy’s wish.
Today, I am changed by remembering his impact and wanting to make sure I leave the impact.
Today, I hope you will be changed the same way.
I often wonder about where those who have gone on are exactly right now. Sometimes I think they could be on Earth, but more walking on another plane of existence as it were where they see fully through the presence of God. Living in my grandmother’s old house, I often wonder if she could be watching my wife and I sometimes. Sometimes, when I think about this, I wonder if Jonathan is. He knew I deeply wanted to get married and I wonder if he knows now and is happy. I wonder if I can make the impact that Jonathan did and it took him a short time to do it.
Why did he make that impact? He did something many of us, including myself, have a hard time doing. He didn’t focus on himself. (Something incredibly hard to do in the world of the Aspie, though it could be this is much harder for others than I realize)
My own wife does know that there are times I talk about Jonathan, someone she knows very much about, and I just have to have a hug from her then. He was my friend, and I miss him. I still talk to his dad regularly on the phone. He even sent my wife and I flowers for our first anniversary. He is a great guy still fighting on hard. I admire his ability to keep going despite such a tragic loss that is the nightmare of any parent.
Like all ministries, what I do here is supported by donations. I do hope for your support, but also please add another ministry to your list and tell others about it. Jonathan’s Impact is one that should be felt everywhere. At the end, I will include a link to this where you too can find out more.
And as for you Jonathan, I do miss you greatly and I look forward to seeing you again someday.