When I received Lesli’s message last Saturday night that Billy had been
admitted to the hospital, I drove down to see Billy. I had just missed the family. I went in to talk with Billy. We had had eaten several lunches together over the years. We were friends. In fact, I believe, if we had grown up in the same town we would have been childhood friends. One advantage of being a long-tenured pastor is that when you make hospital visits, you don’t just visit church members, you visit friends. I visited with my friend. We talked for a while. I could tell he was struggling. I knew he needed his rest, so I prayed for Billy. And, as I left, I said, “So long, Billy. I will see you soon.” I had a funny feeling when I said those words. While I hoped to see him the next day, I sensed something else going on.
I learned Sunday morning that Billy had died in the night. Billy’s cause of death was heart failure. Interestingly, one of his favorite Bible verses was Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” On Sunday morning, Jesus shouted, “Billy, come out!” And, the man who had died came out. Billy came out of the tomb that had imprisoned him, the shackles that had bound him were loosed, the demons that had terrorized him were gone, the heart that stopped beating was made clean and renewed to new life in heaven.
Billy often said, “I know I will be in heaven because I fought my demons
on earth.” He wrote in his journal, “Life seems very hard at times. This is not how I had mine planned at all. . . . I have . . . to trust God and let him be in charge and to try to live instead of making a life. I will relax and give my all to God, trusting in God with all my being.” Later, he wrote, “God made us to honor him and to prepare for eternity. This will bring us great peace and joy.” And, “Faith is taking hold of Christ—keeping hold—and not letting go.”