FARGO — I recently witnessed 1,800 people come together in Scheels Arena to celebrate Landon Solberg’s life and light. Landon was a 12-year-old boy from West Fargo who died Sept 17 following a courageous battle with an aggressive brain tumor. His story was heartwarming, inspiring and heart-breaking; all three qualities and emotions on so many levels. Through several miraculous acts of God, including the love and support of thousands of people, Landon’s story went around the world.

Landon and my daughter were in third grade together. Since both excelled in math, they had focused instruction and interaction in a small group together. In September 2017, two months before his diagnosis, Landon and his family started attending Prairie Heights Community Church, where I am one of the pastors. This brought Landon much closer into my life. I will forever be grateful that God brought our lives together and I am a better person, pastor and follower of Christ having rubbed shoulders with God’s warrior, Landon.

I am very hesitant to write this column as there are multiple topics from Landon’s life that are column-worthy, and my limited abilities as a writer will not do justice to the miracles and impact witnessed from his life. As I thought and prayed about it this morning, I decided to not let fear stop me from the blessings you may receive as I share some of Landon’s story from my perspective.

We all agree, pain and suffering are a part of our current world and reality. The question is: Where do you go when pain and suffering knock you down?

The life principle clearly demonstrated by Landon is: Your focus predicts your future. When faced with a difficult medical diagnosis, Landon went to God and to his instruction manual for life (the Bible). And, oh my goodness, what a difference it made.

If we were listening and watching at all, Landon taught us, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) Where do we find God? He is the closest to where the pain and brokenness is greatest. God is in orphanages, funeral homes, hospital rooms, nursing homes, jails and treatment centers.

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Landon modeled Psalm 121 for us: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth…the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121:1-2, 8) Where was God when this tumor formed? Where was God during Landon’s treatments? He was close to Landon and Landon grew so close with him.

Landon experienced and taught us what John, one of Jesus’s disciples, wrote about: To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)

When we receive Christ as our Savior we become a part of his forever family; a church is not a building, a church is people; a spiritual family and a spiritual home. Those who receive Christ and walk with him will die in Christ and spend forever with Christ. God bless you!