Bob Fisher is the President of Belmont University in Nashville. His daughter, Kelly, had been dating Adam White for eight years in 2001 and they worked across the street from each other in downtown New York City. Kelly witnessed the explosion in the Tower on September 11th and was never able to reach Adam. For the first time, the entire family understood what it was like to collectively have broken hearts. As Thanksgiving approached, Bob was at a loss in preparing a message for the local Chamber of Commerce. He found solace in a book by John Claypool, Tracks of a Fellow Struggler, detailing the loss of John’s eight-year-old daughter to leukemia. It was then that the Fisher family decided to stop asking why and instead expressed gratitude for the time they had shared with Adam. The Fisher family started on a new journey, seeking answers on how to live a full life, even when it is a short one.
While touring Alive Hospice in Nashville, Bob hit upon the idea to listen to the wisdom of people at the end of their lives. Bob and his wife Judy interviewed 104 hospice patients and asked them what was really important in life. The stories were captured in the book, Life Is A Gift: Inspiration from the Soon Departed.
It wasn’t too long into the interviews that the Fishers realized that the messages were repetitive and clear:
1. Put aside things that aren’t important
2. Grant and seek forgiveness
3. Get your relationship with God right
4. As much as you can, get your relationships with others right
5. Proactively seek joy instead of waiting for it to happen
6. Give away more of yourself and your resources
Extreme regrets and extreme joys were concentrated on relationships with God and others, especially family, friends and church communities. Bob says, “We didn’t intend to write a Christian book; it just turned out that way. The biggest blessing was how our marriage was strengthened while we were writing the book. We had the opportunity to pour over notes each night, asking each other how these stories applied in our lives.” Bob and Judy are still prominent members of the community, but they carefully carve out high-priority time to nurture their relationships with God and with others. They don’t let much time slip by before they start planning their next vacation to see their grandchildren in New York and Washington, DC.
Their favorite quote in the book is from C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory: “Every person we meet will someday be either a heavenly being or a resident of hell. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.”
How have you grown in the past 10 years? Are you grateful for the time that you have; are you helping the people that you meet move one step closer to heaven?
Blessings, my friend,