September 21, 2016

Alive Day

Every now and then, someone comes along in life who causes you to see things from another perspective, a broader point of view. They may challenge you. They may inspire you. They may make you appreciate all you have. They may even push you to become a better version of yourself. If you’re really lucky, they’ll do all of that.

That’s what my friend Dave does – but not just for me; for a lot of us. But what makes him even more of an inspiration isn’t just what he does; it’s what he’s been through. See, 10 years ago today, he was supposed to have died.

This was supposed to be Dave’s casket. The blast from the IED was supposed to kill him. At the very least, it was supposed to take away his ability to ever walk again.

The list of his injuries was extensive. Broken legs. Broken spine. Incomplete spinal cord injury. Broken hip. TBI (traumatic brain injury). Shot in the head and chest. Yeah, Dave has been through a lot. Just a glance at this pic and anyone can see that.

But while most people will focus on the physical injuries he sustained and survived, what really inspires me can’t be captured in a photo. It’s not the fact that he served 11 faithful years in the United States Army. It’s not the fact that he survived a war that tried (and tried and tried) to take him out. No. What really inspires me is everything the camera isn’t able to show. His inspiration to me is found in the mental, emotional, and spiritual battles he has faced … and won.

While the firefights he was in lasted minutes or hours, the real fights took years. Through addiction and recovery, hopelessness and depression, Dave continued to fight. He told me once that the physical injuries he’s endured are just that; physical. And physical injuries heal. As he put it, “The mental and emotional stuff really kicks your ass.”

But Dave found THE way through it. That’s what inspires me. He never, ever gave up. Although he came close, Dave never threw in the towel. And now, 9 years to the day after it was all supposed to end, Dave knows why, and he will tell anyone and everyone that the only way he’s here is because of one thing and one thing only: Jesus Christ. But don’t let me put words in his mouth. Watch his story and hear it for yourself.  

Look, I know Dave is human. I’m not building him up to be something or someone he isn’t. But the fact is, God has used Dave – and continues to use him – to leave an indelible impression on my life. God has given me a friend who challenges me. I can't repay him for that. I can't earn something like that. But I can, and do, thank God for my friend Dave ... especially on his “ALIVE DAY”!

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