MountainWings       A MountainWings Moment
#1037            Wings Over The Mountains of Life

The Big Flash

For those of you who are old enough to remember, what you were
doing when you heard the news that President Kennedy had been

I was almost seven years old.

I was walking down a large hill leading to our house on Rockmart
Drive heading home from school. Someone pulled up beside me in
a car and said, "President Kennedy has been shot."

That's been almost 40 years ago and though I was just a small
boy, the memory vividly lingers.

Major traumatic events like a camera flash freeze the moment.
It is a picture that remains and even time itself doesn't erase
it. Most Americans remember what they were doing when a
traumatic event occurred.

Today is such a day for me.

It's February 6th.

The day has no special meaning for most of you but for me it's
one of those flash days.

It's not exactly the typical Kodak™ moment.

February 6th is the day my brother died.

I remember receiving a 911 page on my beeper. I had been in the
shower and didn't answer the phone. When I returned the call it
was my youngest brother telling me that my 38-year-old brother
had been taken to the hospital after passing out.

It was Sunday morning. I was due to deliver the Sunday morning
message in church in two hours. I rushed to the hospital. Only
my brother's wife was there when I arrived. She explained the
events of the morning.

Although I knew from the description it sounded medically
serious, I knew my brother was a young, healthy, and vibrant

The thought of death seemed impossible.

Two of his neighbors were doctors and they rode in the ambulance
with him and even went into the emergency room to assist.

When his neighbor walked out of the emergency room and walked
past us shaking his head he spoke no words. The gesture and
look was enough to convey the meaning.

This couldn't be. . . and yet it was.

It was the greatest mountain that I had ever faced.

It was a blinding flash.

He had a blood clot in his leg migrate to his lungs.

He had complained and gone to the hospital with difficulty of
breathing several days earlier. The doctors ran tests and said
that he was fine and sent him home.

If he had been diagnosed properly, anti-clotting drugs could
have easily dissolved the clot before it did fatal damage.

Often mountains are caused by the failure of others to do their
job properly.

People will make mistakes. You will make mistakes. I will make

Of all of the sermons that I have preached, I can only remember
the exact date and subject of one, the sermon that I preached on
that Sunday morning.

There was nothing fantastic about the sermon just as there was
nothing fantastic about my downhill walk on the day President
Kennedy was shot.

But it was a sermon preached in the light of a flash.
You remember everything in the light of a flash.

In my mind I was tempted to change my prepared sermon and
deliver a message appropriate to the moment.

A still small voice said, "No, deliver that which you have been

The message was entitled, "Would Jesus be happy with your

I later understood the importance of that message in light of
the events of that day. When we leave this world, it won't be
important what we've gotten, but rather what we gave. All of
our accumulations and possessions won't really matter.

Great mountains will change you. They are the challenges and
the obstacles that will either make you stronger or break you.

They will make you better or bitter, a climber or a complainer

The mountain will allow you to see a vision that you can't see
from the valley.

The mountain can also make you so cringe with the fear of
falling that you tightly clamp your eyes shut.

You can revel in the pure rarefied air.

You can gasp for breath from the thinness of it.

The mountain can do great or terrible things.

It depends on both perspective and preparation.

A flash can change your life like none other.

It can either blind you or illuminate dark areas where you could
not see.

It depends on both perspective and preparation.

The Kennedy flash I remember very well but it didn't change me.

I was never the same after the February 6th flash.

I later preached two sermons about how the experience changed my

They are still some of the most downloaded and listened to
sermons on

If you ever have the flash of the loss of a loved one, go and
listen to “The Eulogy of Effie Thomas" and “1 Hour & 40 Minutes.”

It will help you fly over that mountain.

I shouldn't say "if" you ever have a flash of the loss of a
loved one.

If you live long enough, you will have several.

Those types of flashes MUST come. It is an inevitable part of
life. You cannot stop them and often can't even delay them.

The flashes are not the problem.
The problem is not being prepared to fly when the inevitable
flashes come.

How do you prepare for a flash?

You don't.

You learn to live each day to the best of your ability and to
see the beauty.

You learn to laugh at the traffic jam instead of cursing it.

You learn to smile when someone attacks you.

You learn to have patience when the grocery checkout line stands

You learn to handle the little things.

The little things prepare you for the big flashes.

When my brother left this earth, I could honestly say that I had
done everything as an older brother that I could have done for
him in life.

When he had gone to the hospital days earlier I laid my hands on
him and prayed a prayer of comfort and peace.

His told his wife later that he felt a warm glow go over him and
his fear left him.

It was just a touch, but a touch in love.

Neither of us knew what lay ahead.

Neither do you know what is ahead.

Don't worry about that.

Just do the right thing now.

Stay at peace in the grocery line.

Stay at peace with the little things.

Touch someone in love,

And treat your brother right.

Then you'll be better prepared to handle the big flashes.

It depends on both perspective and preparation.

Whether the big flashes light you up

Or burn you up.

~A MountainWings Original~

The Eulogy of Effie Thomas

One Hour and Forty Minutes

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