8 11 2015

Rock _nCame across an old picture the other day of when I was just a boy. I was with a group from my Sunday school class and we had a Bible we bought from money we collected and we were presenting it to the folks at the local nursing home. Had to smile remembering that time in life and the kids I knew back then. Then I noticed this lady standing with our group, and my smile got broader, and a little later a few happy tears.

Her name was Billie, a good ole southern gal who we were privileged to have as our Sunday school teacher. Billie was one of those special folks everyone loved, the main reason I’m sure was because she was going to love you first no matter who you were. She had a word of encouragement for every person she’d meet; if you couldn’t find a smile that day you’d be wearing a big one after a few minutes spent with this dear lady. As a teacher she didn’t overwhelm you with her knowledge of the Bible, but what she taught she believed, and lived.

In my teen years I went though a time of bitterness with life and most people in general. My attitude was a bad one with a dark cloud seemingly hanging over my life; I didn’t know how to shake it and frankly didn’t know if I wanted to. While walking along a shopping center in my hometown I looked in the window of one stores and saw a familiar face that made me want to stop and say something, but I chose to keep going.

I was just a few feet past this establishment when I heard a voice with a Southern accent behind me, “John David!” Uh oh.  Other than my beloved mother there was only one person in the entire world that called me by first and middle name–Billie. I had changed a lot and was sure she would recognize me when I passed. When I turned to face her, my thought was a quick hello, good to see you and then keep moving. Well to put it like she would have, “that dog don’t hunt!” Before I could say a word, she said, “You put out that cigarette and get in here right now!”

I could have said I was too busy, but from the look on her face and those hands on her hips my mind told me, “You better just shut up and get in there.” As soon as we got in the store it was a big hug, that familiar smile that I l came to love and the type of words that only Billie knew how to give all the time–encouraging ones. We talked a bit about the old days, the people we knew and how it had been so long since we had seen each other. She then asked what I was doing now, and why didn’t I stop in to see her. With head hanging down and a little embarrassment in my voice I answered. “Well Billie, I’ve kinda changed and haven’t been to church in a long time, guess I didn’t want you to see me like this and wasn’t sure you’d want to see me either. I felt two fingers reach under my chin to push my head up so she could look me in the eye. “John David, have you forgotten one of the most important lessons I taught you?” My mind immediately went into scan mode in hopes of remembering what she might be talking about. Before I could give it much thought she told me, with a gentle smile on her face; “No matter what, God still loves you and so do I.”

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Billie reminded me that God may not be happy with some of the choices I was making, but that sure didn’t mean He no longer loved me. He waits for all His children to turn to Him and His open arms. He’s not in the business of ever leaving or forsaking the ones He loves, just like our gal Billie.

As Danny Gokey puts it, “I can’t brag about my love for God because I fail Him daily, but I can brag about His love for me because it NEVER FAILS!!!”

From that point on whenever I was close to her shop, I would stop by and always find other there visiting for a healthy dose of laughter and sunshine.  A few year back this fellow “Traveler of the Rock Road” was called home to Heaven, leaving so many of us sad at her departure, yet richer for having her touch each of our lives in that special way that only she could do–with a love that never stopped.

Now I hold strong to the belief that someday I will enter Heaven to the welcoming arms of my Lord, and also get to see so many precious folks I know that went there ahead of me. And while checking things out I won’t be surprised to hear a voice with a Southern accent call out to me, “John David!” and possibly with tears in my eyes (as I have right now remembering this dear saint), I’ll run to get my hug and tell her “See, I didn’t forget about that love that never fails.” Knowing Billie she’ll probably say with a smile, “Why I knew that all along.”

Lord, please send us more Billies, to teach us of your unfailing love.

See ya next time.




One response

9 11 2015
Gary Austin

Bless Billie – and bless you for sharing this with us, John.

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