My husband preached a message in church several Sunday’s ago about the brevity of life. He mentioned that we had recently visited the grave stones of our descendants 4 and 5 generations past and saw on each marker the date of birth and the date of death with what lies between being that short dash of physical life. Is the life that we live today living to glorify God? Are we advancing His kingdom here on earth in our mortal bodies? Are we fixed upon the things above?
As we prepare to leave tomorrow to attend the funeral of a friend and co-laborer in the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom, 19-year-old Michael Billings, we mourn a great loss while still trusting in the Sovereign hand of our Lord that He indeed has the time of our birth and the time of our death in His hands.
“…You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” James 4:14
Mr. Phillips offered a complete tribute to Michael. In it he stated, “Michael was the oldest young man I ever met…”. I have to say that when I read that I had to agree completely with such an accurate assessment. He was indeed the most mature oldest young man I have ever met. Were you to have met this young man, you would have been absolutely amazed by his maturity and composure. He didn’t waste his youth in frivolous things or worldly losses. He was a stalwart example of a youth well beyond his years living his life completely and solely for Christ’s Crown and none other.
Our family’s last visit with Michael was several weeks ago when we took a trip to San Antonio to visit our dear friends the Grady family, Michael’s oldest sister and brother in-law. Michael joined us at Church and we had fellowship with him and the Grady’s over lunch and later on that day at the DeLadurantey home where we had encouraging discussions over a variety of subjects which included the men sitting around the living room discussing weighty topics of entrepreneurship, business, church, family and the usual topics that surround men that desire to be used of God to reform this culture.
We met the Grady and Billings families at the Zes family’s famous 4th of July party several years prior where young Michael stood up and gave an incredible speech he had written at around the age of 15 or 16 and one which was well over most of our heads. Since then we enjoyed listening to several other speeches and memorization pieces he had done at these 4th of July celebrations. A powerful, in his own words, sermon he preached at the age of 17 tells more about Michael’s love and understanding of the Lord than any could explain in words. I encourage you to listen to it: Life is But a Vapor.
May we be encouraged to raise such mighty warriors for Christ while yet still in their youth, that can and will do much damage to the kingdom of darkness.
It is wonderful to have friends that embrace the narrow road and seek to live out the life of true Christianity. Recently, my dear sister in Christ and good friend, Jennifer Grady, sent this quote to me that her children had found. It says:
Though the cross of Christ has been beautified by the poet and the artist, the avid seeker after God is likely to find it the same savage instrument of destruction it was in the days of old. The way of the cross is still the pain-wracked path to spiritual power and fruitfulness.So do not seek to hide from it. Do not accept an easy way. Do not allow yourself to be patted to sleep in a comfortable church, void of power and barren of fruit. Do not paint the cross nor deck it with flowers. Take it for what it is, as it is, and you will find the rugged way to death and life. Let it slay you utterly.
A.W. Tozer’s book The Radical Cross
For our own family, we thank God that He has surrounded us with friends who do not seek to hide from the cross of Christ but instead seek to embrace that rugged cross. We praise God for friends that stand with us to encourage us with the uncompromising truth of the Gospel. The Billings and Grady families have offered such support and encouragement to us over the years. We are grateful for their love and support to our family and we are grateful that the Lord has knit our hearts together. We grieve with them and stand by them as brothers and sisters in Christ during such a painful time.
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed”, says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” Revelation 14:13