April 23, 2016

Music & Miracles: The Dream of a Champion

By Jack Smith

I knew a man who had a dream.

He dreamed of peace amidst pain for those who suffered. He dreamed of a better future for his wife and their children and all who suffered from the indignity of a cruel illness and the injustice of hunger.

He dreamed of music and miracles. He dreamed of a cure and an answer to problems that too often leave those of us incapable or unwilling to dream with our hands in our pockets, waiting for someone else to fix it.

His dream was powered by faith and hope, not fear of the final act he knew was coming, no matter how hard he fought.

And he fought—like a champion in the ring—to the end. As those who were blessed to be at his funeral learned, the end was devastating and raw and real and painful. And sweet and powerful and life-giving for those who loved him most and those who didn't know him at all.

He kept swinging and hoping and praying until that final bell tolled. Its sound echoes still, giving hope and life and encouragement to those still fighting the good fight.

What a blessing.

Even as he penned notes to those he loved, knowing his final breath was moments away, he still dreamed of this day and how to make it happen. He challenged us all to fill up a historic stadium and raise $1 million for the causes he believed in.

Despite mighty obstacles and the seeds of doubt sewn by all who said "that's impossible" through the entire journey, he still had a dream.

He dreamed of music and hope and love on a warm spring evening in God's Country. Of thousands gathered together in fellowship to listen to the music that had been the soundtrack of his life and the life he had built with an amazing and beautiful wife.

He kept the dream alive even as his own nightmare played somewhere in the background every day and in the foreground on the hard days. It was set to the haunting score of a movie sure to end in the hardest kind of tragedy, the kind when a bright light is snuffed out far too soon.

He surely felt it. He surely knew it. Those who love him most did, too. Yet he never lost hope. He never lost faith. He never took no for an answer.

He never let the white noise or the black noise or the chattering doubt of naysayers choke the life out of his dream, even as the illness he fought slowly choked the life out of him.

Despite it all, he still had a dream.

He had a dream just like the man who woke up the conscience of a great nation on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial five decade ago.

Sentimentality and emotion may sometimes cause us to overstate the beauty and greatness of a moment in history, a night that may one day be an obscure footnote compared to the greatest speech in American history.

Yet to miss the significance of days and events like this one, when tens of thousands will gather to hear music and witness miracles big and small at a stadium built for a game Kevin Brown loved—regardless of his color blindness and allegiance many of us here in Auburn can't understand—would be like missing the magic and power of music itself. Music, as Kenny Chesney even says, is medicine for the soul.

Medicine for the soul

Music has been medicine for my soul, a powerful antidote for the pain of a broken heart and the sting of disappointment. I know it has been for you, too.

So tonight let's all take a moment to close our eyes and give thanks to our Father in Heaven for the life of Kevin Brown. Let's pray for Stacy and Barclay and the entire Chicken Salad Chick Foundation team who made this happen. 

Kevin Brown had a dream many said was not possible. Tonight it will come true.

How sweet it is to know he will have the best seat in the house at the Music & Miracles Superfest in Jordan-Hare Stadium. 

As Kenny Chesney and other gifted artists spread the love, Kevin will feel it in his heart. I wish I could see the smile on his face. I find comfort and hope knowing I will one day. That's not a dream. It's a promissory note, already paid in full by our Savior.

Despite the pain we all endure at one time or another, there is a time and a season for everything.

Tonight is a time to celebrate.

I will close my eyes and let music be the medicine my soul needs. I know it will be for you, too.

I will thank the King of Kings for the gift of knowing a great man. I will thank Him for taking away this great man's pain and for showing us grace we don't deserve by giving us all his love.

Thanks be to God. Forever.

P.S. #Spread the love. That's what Kevin and Kenny would want us all to do.