"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." –Philippians 1:21
What leads a man to have that kind of confidence and hope in either life or death? That question haunted me for some time. Here was the apostle Paul; beaten, abused, tortured, stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned and yet he still spoke with a full confidence in something this world couldn't offer. I pondered if that kind of faith was only reserved for the apostles in the Bible. Could anybody in today's fast-paced, me-first society even comprehend what that meant? Yet, I stand here today, boldly proclaiming that not only do I have faith that such a hope exists in an incredibly dark place but also that I have seen with my own two eyes that very hope put into practice. My younger brother, Christian Andrew Schmidt, died on Nov. 2, 2010, at around 7 a.m. Though he was younger in age, I will always regard him as my elder, for I have learned more from him than anybody else I have encountered upon this journey we call life. I will be eternally grateful to him for teaching me and showing me that a faith does exist that can move mountains, because his did. His entire life was a battle and a struggle against the odds. Yet every time he was presented with a challenge he would not turn his back, but took it on full-steam ahead. He knew that it was not for his glory that he must continue, but for the glory of a Heavenly Father that he loved with all of his heart. The most beautiful part of Christian's life was that for all the difficulties he faced in his own life, he still somehow managed to inspire courage and hope in others. In his 21 years of life he suffered more pain, more heartache and more rejection than I daresay most will see in an entire lifetime. He battled cancer, chemotherapy and radiation side effects, swine flu, pneumonia and a host of doctors and family members who told him to quit fighting because there was no longer a reason to. Christian understood what everybody else couldn't, though. Christian understood that he was not here on his time, and he wasn't here to appease his family or friends. His mission was simple; he lived with every single breath to honor and glorify Christ. So even if he couldn't find the energy to move off of the couch somehow he could always find the strength to stand up for forty-five minutes to preach the gospel. If that meant traveling across the state more than a used car salesman just to present his story and a picture of the gospel, he would, and without a second's hesitation. People will see Christian from a distance and marvel at his strength and his ability to live strong, yet those that know him the best will proclaim that it wasn't Christian who lived strong, but Christ inside of him. Those who know him best will simply say that he lived weak. As I write this, I understand that no matter how eloquently I write these words or how well I paint a picture for you, in no way will I ever be able to do justice or truly honor the life Christian lived. All I can say is that I am humbled by the opportunity to have known him and the opportunity to have called him my brother. He is survived by two very proud parents, who will sing to a glorious Creator that their son who was in pain is now no longer; a brother who will take all that he learned from him to reach as many for His Kingdom as possible; and a sister-in-law who learned to love him as if he were her own brother. To truly honor Christian Andrew Schmidt, there need not be words or flowers or even stories. To truly honor his memory, don't think of him; rather think of a wonderful Father who gave him life and death! Think of a Savior who rescued him from his sin and pain because He loved him. To truly honor my brother, do not any longer waste your life on the things of this world, but set your eyes on the eternal. Set your gaze on Christ, and with every breath you have left in you seek to praise Him.
We would love to take an opportunity to celebrate Christian's life with all of you on Sunday, November 7, 2010, at 2 p.m. at Northport Baptist Church.
We shall sing our praises to an amazing Father who knows our needs in both life and death! In lieu of flowers, all we ask for is your attendance Sunday at 2 p.m. where the gospel will be presented as Christian would have wanted. If you feel the need to give, find a Missions project that seeks to spread the gospel, donate to the Christian Schmidt Scholarship Fund being set up at Northport Baptist Church, or help the wonderful people at the Hospice of West Alabama who helped to make Christian's last few days comfortable and peaceful. If you never met Christian, I challenge you to check out his blog, www.christianschmidt.wordpress.com
. You might find that it will inspire you, challenge you or encourage you, but I guarantee that you will see what a life devoted to Christ looks like. We continue to find comfort in the following verses:
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." –2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Amen!