Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Moment of Impact

Moment of impact.

For the quiet, little Midwest town where I live the moment of impact came on Friday October 29th, 2010, just a little after 4 a.m. where our Homecoming King, 4.0, gifted singer, all-star athlete, son, brother, teammate, classmate, friend to all passed away. Nathan was only 17. 

I was a Sophomore in high school. I was the boy's soccer manager and we had a home game that night. We had been killing it that season and we were top ranked in our league. The whole community turned out for the game. It was a the determining game to see whether or not we'd be league champs. That same night we were playing our last football game for the season. We were playing it in a neighboring town. But everyone's focus was on the soccer game. Every player played their hearts out down to the buzzer. The final buzzer rang out but you could barely hear it against the screams, whoops, hollers and cheers from the crowd and team. We won; we were the league champs. The first time in the history of our boy's soccer team. Everyone was on cloud nine, celebrating. It was like something out of a movie. Nothing could have brought us down. But what happened next, nothing could have prepared us for.

At the football game we were on top of our game, playing our hardest. It was almost halftime and one of our players, senior Nathan Stiles #44 had just intercepted the ball and was tackled. He walked off the field to the sidelines clutching his head saying "my head hurts" then collapsed. He was Life Flighted to our local hospital where he was immediately taken into surgery. His family, friends, classmates, teammates, members of the community sat in the waiting room and prayed; prayed that he'd be okay, that he wouldn't be taken. Hours later the doctor delivered the news. Nathan died in surgery. That was the moment of impact that changed everyone's life forever. Life would never be the same. 

I went to school and had never heard a silence so deafening before. What was suppose to be an exciting day of school pride of winning the soccer game and being league champs was replaced by sorrow, mourning, silence and tragedy. A few days later there was a celebration of life service held in our high school gym. I attended like most everyone in my school. Every seat in the place was filled, there wasn't even any standing room. The entire town, school, neighboring towns, everyone came out to celebrate the life of such an incredible young man. It was inspiring and so moving to see everyone come together in such a time of tragedy and sadness. Yes there were tears but they weren't sad tears, but happy ones. We all knew Nathan was up in Heaven smiling down and singing along with us. Nathan was a strong Christian and his faith was the most important thing to him. It's his faith that got everybody through this dark time and what would spark the Nathan Project. 

Because of his strong faith his family wanted to celebrate it and the Nathan Project was born. The Nathan Project is an organization bringing God's Word to those in need. 

Today marks the 4th year since that moment of impact. Even though I didn't know him personally it still brings back the feelings. Nathan impacted more lives than imaginable. He impacted mine. 

I learned that life is so, so, so precious and can be taken from us at any time. That we are not guaranteed the next minute, hour, day, week, month or year. That we are only guaranteed the time we are living in now. And that when our time comes we need to be prepared; to be confident in our faith and know where we are going. I learned that everything is in God's plan. God had an important plan for Nathan and that this was it. That his life would save others. That through it more would be saved and know God's Word. "It was the end of a decade but the start of an age." 

"life's all about moments, of impact and how they change our lives forever"