My cousin Bill has died.
He was a few years older than I. Like me, his Dad died young. I'll miss him. Like me, he loved family gatherings.
He made me laugh. He talked sports with me, including our beloved Crimson Tide football team. I remember watching the Sugar Bowl featuring Bama & Penn State in the late 70s at his Mother's house with him. We hooted & hollered throughout, but especially when Rich Wingo & Barry Krauss stopped Penn State's Mike Guman on a 4th & 1 at the 1 to preserve a victory and another national championship. He taught me to throw a perfect spiral (which I can still do!). He taught me the proper way to catch a football ("Look it all the way into your hands...catch it away from your body...then tuck it away." I can also still do that!) He spent time with me when I was a kid. Regrettably, I never duplicated any of his athletic skills. (Well, except for throwing & catching a football...) But we did play softball together when I was in high school. I was competent; Bill was good! I've not thought of that in years, until this afternoon. As one of our cousins' daughter wrote this afternoon, "Bill, I hope you've met all the sports greats who have gone on before..."
Bill leaves behind 3 grown children, & several grandchildren. Also, a beloved sister, and a grieving Mother. (He was crazy about both!) And a bunch of us who will miss getting picked on by him and laughing with him at the family gatherings.
Like me, Bill knew failure in his life. And like me, he knew redemptive grace and salvation that is found in Christ. I know this because he & I spoke of it.
I was exercising right after I heard of Bill's passing. . I switched the ipod over to some of my favorite worship songs. When Michael English & the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sang "I Bowed on My Knees & Cried 'Holy,'" I pictured Bill doing just that, on knees that are whole again for the first time in decades. "As I entered the gates of that city, my loved ones all knew me well..." I'm confident that's true. I'm also quite saddened that, increasingly, there's a considerable number of Madaris loved ones there waiting on the rest of us. And yet, I'm also looking forward very much to that family reunion in Glory. The one that Bill is now part of. I also remembered when he & I coincidentally had to step outside to shed a few tears at a family gathering some years ago when our Uncle led us in some hymns. It was a tender & treasured moment, as he looked at me & said "sometimes it's hard to remember those who aren't here any more, isn't it?" It is. And I felt again that stirring that Caedmon's Call sings of: "There's a stirring deep within me; could it be my time has come when I'll meet my gracious Savior face to face when all is done? I will rise up and bown down and lay my crown at His wounded feet..."
Bill, thanks, cuz. See you later. Roll Tide!
p.s. - Would you please pray for my beloved Aunt Margaret & her daughter Sandra & for Bill's children & grandchildren & nieces & nephews & cousins? Two of my favorite names of God are "Jehovah Shammah" (the God Who is present) and "El Olam" (The everlasting God.) Pray that God would manifest Himself in powerful ways these next few days, especially to Bill's immediate family, won't you?
p.p.s. - For the third time in recent weeks,
"When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'
'O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?'
...thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:54-57, excerpted)