A Friend Died and I Met a Lion

My day started by finding out that a friend died.


He wasn’t a close friend. It was someone that I recently met. But it was someone that I lived life with for a little bit… and someone that I had the incredible opportunity to minister to. A person whose heart began to open up to God in our discussions and our time together.

My phone rang.

The call was from a loved one. She wanted me to fly to another state and do the memorial ceremony. You see, he was never “religious”… but… for the first time his heart was beginning to open to God and she knew this because he had talked about our conversations. My heart broke because I knew I couldn’t hop on an airplane and do the ceremony. I wanted to be there, but I couldn’t. My son had an event where he was being honored on the field of the Arizona Diamondbacks on the same day as the service. I couldn’t miss that. My family is important.

However, I committed to help. I committed to find someone. I committed to do all that I could. I did and there will be a beautiful service in honor and memory of him… without me.

It really makes me think, though.

I think about him. I think about the phone call. I think about our conversations. I think about how short life is… how just a few days prior I was talking and laughing with this friend. And now, he was gone. It was sudden. It was tragic. He leaves kids behind. My heart is sad.

I take that emotion with me. I try to take the sadness and change it to inspiration… or appreciation. I look at the people in my life and want to be grateful for the time that I have with them. Understanding that life is short and that I have purpose in this short life.

Maybe, in those final days of my friend’s life, my job was simply to encourage and love and direct and point him to Jesus… the ultimate hope… the ultimate love… the ultimate life.

The heavy Cloud followed over me today. Life is like that sometimes isn’t it? Kind of punches you in the gut and takes away your breath. You don’t know what to do. So, you put one foot in front of the other and you keep carrying on. That’s what I did today.

And then I received the phone call.

“If you want to meet that lion you need to leave now. The town is closing down the circus.”

Weird words… and I’ve never heard them before today. However, they were true. I made a statement a few days prior that I wanted a picture with the lion. I said it jokingly… knowing that there was absolutely no way that anyone was going to be able to connect me with a lion.

However, my limitations had never met a guy named Gilly Pollard. Somehow, he had made it happen!

And this wasn’t just any lion. This was “Francis the lion” who spent his time at the circus. And, if I didn’t move quick, I was going to miss my opportunity. I hopped in his truck and we were off to the rodeo grounds. That is where I got to meet Francis.

We took photos and had a great time. And, I believe that this next photo says it all for me.

I’d be “lion” if I said this moment wasn’t epic. 
(However, that lion seems to be eyeing me up for dinner… just saying.)

You see, I lost a friend today, but I also was able to share life with another friend. In fact, one of the best friend that I’ve ever had. He’s one of the people that makes life just a little bit better. And… today I appreciated that a little bit more.

And, I believe that if you look close enough, you probably have some friends like Gilly in your life too. Appreciate them. Live life with them. Smile and laugh with them. Life is short. Make It Count. Be a friend. And appreciate the friends you have. Because… when the wind gets knocked out of you… they have an incredible way of breathing life back into you. 

I’d be “lion” if I didn’t tell you how important that was!

(OK. Last use of cheesy joke. Have a great day!)

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