Fly A Little Higher: the story of Zach Sobiech

Fly A Little Higher: the story of Zach Sobiech May 13, 2014

A little more than a year ago, I discovered the music of Zach Sobiech, a high school student from Minnesota who died of osteosarcoma May 20th of last year. Zach and his friend Sammy Brown had made a band called A Firm Handshake. Their music is incredibly good and it’s in regular rotation on my car iPhone mix. My favorite three songs are “Clouds,”“Fix Me Up,” and “Sandcastles.” Now Zach’s mother Laura has released a book about their journey that I wanted to highly recommend to my readers. It’s called Fly A Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom’s Small Prayer in a Big Way. And here’s a link to the book’s blog tour.

Paul writes in Colossians 1:24: “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” It’s a strange verse. But it captures something about the way that what Jesus suffered gives dignity to our suffering. Paul seems to be saying that when we face suffering with courage and dignity, there’s a way in which we continue to complete the redemptive work of Christ in our world. Jesus gives us the inspiration to carry our crosses with courage and hope. In that sense, Zach’s final years of life that Laura describes in her book are a living out of Colossians 1:24.

Basically, Zach’s story is about how to live in the confidence of eternal life. He never slowed down or despaired through the very end. When he got the word that his cancer was terminal, he started writing the songs that I will be playing a few dozen times a year for the rest of my life. He went to his senior prom just two weeks before he died. It was actually my initial exposure to Zach’s story that led me to the insight that eternity is paradoxically about living in the moment. Laura Sobiech captures this paradox perfectly in the following passage:

The years of fighting cancer and the struggles that came with it had a away of winnowing the chaff of life away and revealing the good kernels left behind. The beauty in life is more visible when the clutter is gone, the colors of life more vibrant against the backdrop of death. I reveled in the wonder at this strange and unexpected phenomena. I realized as I turned memories of the past years over in my mind how often I saw this effect. There were so many times that the sorrow and agony of a particular moment was punctuated by something intensely wonderful and beautiful. Laughter was always sweeter through tears, and joy was more potent when born out of suffering. It was like a rope that had been dropped from heaven. [164]

The book is a quick and engaging read. Laura has great intuitions as a writer for how to capture the personalities of all the characters involved in Zach’s story. Her storytelling is interwoven with her rich Catholic faith. You will be blessed by it!

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