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Looking around the bus, I picked out the faces of my fellow band members. Jeromy was sitting with his head back on a pillow; his wife, Jennifer, was nestled in close to him; and both were fading into a quiet sleep. Brian had on his headphones, listening to his Discman; and Allyson, his wife and our sound technician, was keeping herself busy reading a magazine. I leaned back comfortably, listening to the sounds of Shane Bernard coming through my headphones. I eventually decided to try to take a short nap, so I took off my headphones and laid my head against the edge of the window.
But sleep would not come. My mind refused to shut off. It was filled with thoughts of the reason for our trip and the night we had decided to come. After a concert just a few months ago, we had gathered inside the bus and, as usual, taken our places in the front lounge. We looked over the prayer requests from that night and began to pray for those who had gotten saved at the concert.
After we finished praying, Jeromy looked up and said that we had been asked to fly to California to sing for a man named Tyson, who had cancer and wasn't expected to live very long. He told us that Tyson enjoyed the song "One of These Days" and had requested that we sing it at church one Sunday morning. I had only been to California one time and was pretty excited just to go and see the place again. Everyone else was in favor of the trip as well, so we all agreed to go as soon as possible.
After the excitement of the idea of a California trip wore off, I began thinking about what I would say to Tyson when I sawhim. I have never been around someone who was so close to eternity, and I wasn't quite sure how I would handle the awkwardness of that situation. What was I going to say to him? How could I pretend to be happy, knowing that this man had a wife, kids, friends, and family members who were going to miss him greatly when he was gone? Lying in my bunk that night inside that old, black Prevost bus, I began to get a little nervous about the trip to San Jose.
And now, with my head leaning against the bus window, I began to think about Tyson. What would I say? How would I react? Would I cry? I couldn't cry. I had to be strong and supportive in these situations, and besides, they just wanted us to sing a few songs; they weren't asking us to get personally involved with a man we didn't even know.
We stepped off the bus and headed straight to the church so that we could set up our equipment and do our sound check before the service started. As usual we made sure all the acoustic guitars worked, then following what has become somewhat of a tradition for us, Brian and I played a verse of "Power in His Blood," Jennifer ran through a tiny bit of "I'm Alright," Jeromy picked up his guitar and sang the scat to "Big Fish," and finally, we checked our tracks. It seemed to be a routine day, and we walked off the stage about thirty minutes before the service started.
Then suddenly the wooden doors to the sanctuary opened, and we saw a fragile man in a wheelchair slowly rolling toward us. It was Tyson. Immediately, my heart began to race and my palms began to sweat. I had decided to let my fellow band mates make the first move. They didn't let me down, and soon we engaged in a "get-acquainted" conversation with Tyson. I quickly found myself feeling comfortable with Tyson almost as if I'd known him for a long while. Even though only a few minutes had passed, we knew that something special was about to happen between us and Tyson. As we talked with him, his voice began to lose power as he tired simply with talking. He reached out his weak hand to shake ours and softly asked, "You guys are going to sing 'One of These Days,' aren't you?"
We all smiled and said, "Sure, if you still want us to."
"I would love for you to," he said, returning our smiles.
After meeting Tyson, I felt confident that God was about to do something big in that church that day, and I assumed it would be for Tyson. Maybe God would heal him. Maybe Tyson would instantaneously be free of pain, or maybe he would be healed over the course of several months. But as the day wore on I began to see that we were being more blessed than Tyson or anyone else in that church.
Soon the auditorium began to fill as people filed in for the morning worship. We began by singing an a capella song, then we meandered our way through the set list. It was a good day. We were all singing well and playing well, and we could see that Tyson was really enjoying himself. Every once in a while, he would smile or lift his hands up in the air expressing his love to the Father.
Finally the moment we had all been waiting for arrived. The next and last song was "One of These Days," and we all looked at each other as if to say, "Let's give it our best shot" and we did. The music started, and Jeromy began to sing the opening verse. My eyes were on Tyson to see what he would do. He weakly sang every word right along with Jeromy. For the first time in my life, I saw one of our songs take life. Here was a man who was obviously in a great deal of pain, singing the words to a song that to most of us is a distant possibility. For Tyson, it was current reality. "One of these days" was coming soon for him, and we all knew that. By the time the chorus came in, we were emotional wrecks; and to make matters even more intense, Tyson, whom they said hadn't stood in weeks, rose to his feet and lifted his hands in the air as if he could touch the floor of heaven. As tears filled the eyes of Jeromy, Brian, Jennifer, and me, we understood for the first time what "one of these days" really meant.
Before we left that day, we had a chance to talk again with Tyson and to give him somewhat of a private concert. At the time our record Found a Place wasn't completely finished, but we gave him a sneak preview of it and once again began to praise the Lord through song with Tyson.
Tyson never was healed of his cancer. In fact, just a short while after we sang to him, he passed away. While news of his death filled us all with sadness, we knew that Tyson had not been afraid of eternity. He knew where he was going to spend it and whom he was going to spend it with. The simple smile from a man who was approaching the end of his life taught me a valuable lesson: When heaven is your home, you have no reason to fear, you have no reason to worry, and you have no reason to be alarmed at death because Jesus has already conquered it (see Revelation 1:18).
As I reflect on what I've written here, I can't help but think of Tyson sitting up in heaven somewhere, maybe by the streets of gold or perhaps by the crystal sea, living out "one of these days."
Have you ever thought about the fact that one of these days, you, like Tyson, will meet your Creator and Judge face to face? Will your name be on His "guestlist" when you do? The Book of Romans tells us that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and that the wages of sin is death. But the good news is that if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (see Romans 10:9).
If you want to have a relationship with God, I would encourage you to pray this simple prayer of faith: "Father, I realize that I have failed You, and I know that my sin can keep me from spending eternity with You. I realize that Jesus is Your Son and that He died on a cross and rose again to forgive my sins so that I might have life after this life is through. So, God, I ask forgiveness for the things I have done wrong, and I ask You to come into my heart and be the Lord of my life once and for all. Amen."
If you prayed this prayer, I encourage you to tell a Christian friend or family member about it. I also suggest that you get a Bible and start reading in the Gospel of John; and finally, I challenge you to keep praying that God would grow you in your Christian walk.
No matter where you find yourself right now, no matter what you've done or how far you've strayed, God eagerly awaits your response to Him. It's up to you to accept His gift and allow Jesus to reign in your heart.
What's Your Story?
1. Are you ready for His return "one of these days"?
2. Did you see anything in the life of Tyson that you would like to imitate? What?
3. What scares you most about death? Why?
4. Are you on God's guest list?
5. Have you ever prayed the prayer of faith?