30 May 2014
As I turned on the news yesterday I saw the live vigil service for the life of Stephen Sutton, the teenager diagnosed with cancer at the age of 15, who died two weeks ago, aged 19.His vigil was held yesterday at Lichfield Cathedral and funeral today with much of the world watching. I think there are three reasons he captured the attention and hearts of so many people across the world.
First, he had a driving passion to make the most of the life he had. Creating a bucket list of 46 things he wanted to do. These varied from raising money for charities too skydiving and writing a book. He was no longer content to be a spectator but wanted to participate fully.
Second (I think this overtook his bucket list), he wanted to help as many people as possible. Whether this was by raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust, raising over four million pounds, or simply encouraging people to live beyond themselves.
Third, people were drawn to Stephen because he displayed a positive outlook and attitude in the midst of tragic circumstances. He didn't feel sorry for himself and didn't want other people's pity.He is reported to have said: "I am not bitter about leaving the party early, just happy that I was ever invited."
Here are three lessons I think we can take away from Stephen's life:
1) Make the most of every opportunity
Paul tells us in Ephesians 5: "Be very careful, then, how you live –not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity."Every day we have many opportunities, to serve, to forgive, to love, to overlook and the list could go on. I pray that we would live wise with eternity in view making the most of every moment that comes our way.
2) Live beyond ourselves
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4). Every time I read these ancient words they challenge my selfishness to the core. Yet I am convinced that they are doable simply because the strength comes from Jesus within us.
3) Be hope-filled
Biblical hope is simply trust in the goodness of God. This then produces in us an earnest expectation of good.These are the words of `Jeremiah the prophet: "For I know the plans I have for you,"declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."It would serve us well to fill our minds with these good thoughts that the Father has towards each of us.
So I join the thousands around the world in giving Stephen Sutton a thumbs-upfor modelling a life and attitude that is an inspiring, example to many of us. Make the most of every opportunity, live beyond yourself and may God's hope fill your heart as you ponder His goodness and love.
Steve Uppal is senior leader of All Nations Christian Centre in Wolverhampton and serves on the council of the Evangelical Alliance