July 26, 2007

Gladys, may you rest in peace.

She was our next door neighbor as long as I can remember, and she was like a mother to me...

Her daughter called today to say she had passed on. It was sad to hear but I was able to rejoice because she was 91 and had lived a long and fruitful life. I began blogging in June of 2005 and she and Roy were the subject of my fourth blog. To see how much she meant to Preacher's Wife and me I hope you will read on.

The Little Big People In Your Life...

It is the little big people in your life that make the difference. I had the privilege of growing up in small town USA. From the time Mom and Dad brought me home from the hospital until Anne and I were married, I lived in the same town and same house.

Few people have heard of Roy and Gladys Williams, but they made a big difference in my life. They were our next-door neighbors. Roy and Gladys were well known in our little town as people who really lived their Christian life daily. People needing help could always count on them. It was their two daughters, Nita Sue and Dora Jean, who kept me out of a lot of trouble and helped me graduate from school. The Williams family always seem to believe in me whatever road I was traveling, and in youthful days I spent too much time traveling the back roads going nowhere.

They were just good country people who helped shape this country boy’s life. It was my Sunday School teacher, Mrs. McGuffie, who prophesied that I would be a preacher, but it was Roy and Gladys Williams who paid my first year’s tuition to Bible College. They were not rich people materially, but they were spiritually wealthy. They invested in their church as well as in other people’s lives. They knew their return would be greater than the stock markets.

I could tell many stories of their input into my life, but one seems to stand out above all others at this time.

Anne and I graduated from Baptist Bible College in 1973 and were serving as associate pastors in our first church in Longview, Texas. In August of that year I needed a major operation, so I checked into Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler, Texas. The operation was a success, but I was told that I would need to remain in a wheelchair for four months. It would be impossible for Anne to work and care for me and our two children at the same time.

What would we do? You guessed it! Roy and Gladys opened their home to us for the next four months and cared for our family while Anne worked and I recovered. They loved us and cared for us like we were their children. We will forever remember and be grateful for the Williams family.

A few years ago, I was called home to officiate at Roy’s funeral. At the graveside I decided to break a traditional mold. As we stood around the open grave to pay our last respects to Roy Williams, I led the people to give a clap and a cheer to one of God’s favorite heroes.

Maybe today you can think of one of the little big people in your life and give thanks to God for them. If they are still with us, you may write a card or give them a call just to thank them.


Anonymous said...

They seemed like real hero's! May their tribe increase.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for making their funerals not just a good-bye, but a celebration of the way they lived thier lives. They loved you and Anne as their own. I am very happy for Mom now, I am sure that she took that final ride with Daddy in his old pick-up. I am sure that most of the world thought her ramblings about going to see Daddy's "new house" were signs of dementia, but I am comforted that he was there to guide her on to her eternal home.

Thanks again, and we love you all.

Love, Nita