Matt M. Young, Old. Will One Thing

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“Oh, Thou that giveth both the beginning and the completion, may Thou early, at the dawn of day, give to the young man the resolution to will one thing. As the day wanes, may Thou give to the old man a renewed remembrance of his first resolution; that the first may be like the last, the last like the first, in possession of a life that has willed only one thing.” Soren Kierkegaard.

“Let no man despise thy youth.” These words were written from the Apostle Paul to the younger Timothy, but to me they will always refer to one person: Matt Montzingo.

Everybody who knows him has a “Matt story.” Exuberant, sweet, tenderhearted, wild, sincere, naƒ¯ve, trusting, aggressive, thoughtful, impulsive, driven; Matt is a forceful presence.

A few years ago he took on the youth ministry at our church, and within a month up to 100 kids were packed into the “portable” after the Shorewood High School games. Monday nights “The Rock” drew kids to a worship time with a good band and no-holds barred gospel. With Matt there was a passion combined with recklessness that attracted kids and sometimes made parents run for cover.

Matt helped me remember, and not want to give up on, the hopeful “we CAN change the world” mindset I possessed at that age and stage in life. Ironically, his uncle Dave and I were on staff at Boston’s Park Street Church together in the early 70’s, and we were like early prototypes of Matt.

I love Matt.

This morning the phone rang at 6:20AM. “Matt was in a serious accident with Jason Harper. Matt is on life support and has been declared brain dead. Doug and Katie are on their way to Alaska.”

(Matt joined the military and is stationed at an Air Force base in Alaska. Jason was visiting him prior to Matt’s departure to Iraq. They were driving late last night when a moose ran out onto the highway and hit their car. Jason has a back injury and is in pain. He doesn’t know about Matt’s condition).

Please pray for the families, for Matt and Jason, and for all the people who will be affected by this news. Matt made a huge impact, especially on kids. I know our family is shaken and we’re all processing this news in our own way.

One immediate impact on me was the Kierkegaard quote. If you are young be passionate like Matt. If you are older like me–stay in the game.

I suspect most of you know a “Matt.” These are the go-to guys in the faith community. Like any good team, when the stars are sidelined others need to take up the slack. And as Kierkegaard reminds us, it all begins with “willing one thing to do the will of the Father.”

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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