by: Neva Lanning
Please let me tell you of a beautiful life and most courageous death of a young man.
As a boy he was obedient, pleasant, and never in any serious trouble. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and his cars. After high school he found good employment. However, soon after his employment, things heated up in Vietnam. Realizing he would be drafted he enlisted for three years.
During the previous year, he spent many evenings in his room studying the Bible. God used those evenings to speak to his heart. He realized his need to be saved and received the Lord Jesus Christ into his heart and life. He was baptized and added to his local church the very day he was inducted into the U.S. Army.
Christ changed his life completely. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) He experienced a day to day fellowship with the Lord Jesus throughout his military life. He was a faithful witness. He won a soldier to Christ while in Germany and both sent their tithes and offerings back to his church. That convert was baptized and continued serving the Lord upon his return to the States.
While other soldiers spent their evenings dating, drinking, and gambling, this very special young Christian quietly read his Bible while in his bunk. His off duty days were often spent at an orphanage nearby, showing love to the precious children who had no parents to love them. He found joy in leading a life completely separated from the world system.
God watched over him in the life threatening jungle warfare of Vietnam. Though many were killed around him, our boy returned safely to those who loved him so much.
Upon returning home, he soon married a girl whom he believed was God’s choice for him. God blessed them with two precious children. He had a wonderful job with an eastern Kentucky coal company and was held in high regard at his place of employment. He bought a farm in the mountains he so dearly loved and eventually had a fine, comfortable home there.
Because he loved the Lord and the precious souls of men, he faithfully served in a country church working with the bus ministry and junior church. He traveled many miles up muddy mountain roads, and sometimes dry creek beds, to load up his bus with children and adults. He often spent Saturdays involved in activities for his church youth group or out on visitation, as well as visiting the sick. Much money and many hours were spent in this tireless youth work. He gave them treats, prizes and rewarded them for good behavior. Thus, many came to be taught the Gospel and were saved. His church loved him and especially those children. Only eternity will reveal all the results of his ministry. Vacation time often found him either hunting with his brother in the mountains of Virginia or taking his family to a great Bible camp in Georgia.
In the midst of such a life of loving service, he experienced health problems that soon were diagnosed as cancer. The surgeon reported to the family that the cancer had spread considerably and was terminal. “If someone in my family is to suffer this, I’m glad it’s me. I know that I’m saved and ready for Heaven,” he said. His continual faith and courage left us with a testimony never to be forgotten. He found that into the most tragic of situations, God’s constant presence and precious promises were sufficient for the remaining year of declining strength and health, including his last and forty-fifth birthday. Though hundreds of friends and relatives pleaded with God for his life, we would acknowledge that God’s thoughts and ways are above ours.
The following are only a few of the many promises our loved one claimed during his illness that brought comfort to his heart.
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” (Job 13:15
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”(2 Corinthians 12:9)
“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
“My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” (Psalm 73:26)
When we don’t understand what God is doing in a life, we must have faith to believe that everything is in His control. Only when we get to Heaven will we have all the answers. When we die, we don’t lose our life; we just change it for a much better one. The hardships and heartaches we endure in this life are given by the Master for the purpose of enabling us to win a crown.
The hardest things are those the world knows little about, the trials, burdens and sorrows hidden in our heart and known only to God. It isn’t how long we live, but how well we live that counts for eternity.
We learn through difficult experiences that God is good and no matter how bad life may get, when we get to Heaven one day, and all the bad times are past, we will fully understand and praise Him for His goodness.
Faithful church member