By Donald Willis
How refreshingly do we sing, “Oh victory in Jesus. . – . ” Speaking of the difficulties in overcoming the weaknesses of the flesh, Paul queried, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 7:24-25). And announcing the defeat of death, Paul declares, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57). God “. . . always causeth us to triumph in Christ. . .”(2 Cor. 2:14).
Everyone desires the victory in Jesus, but almost no one desires to die in order to obtain it. Yet, flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
It is truly a wonderful day when one of God’s saints is able to cross over the river of death to be in the presence of God. Sorrow in the hearts of those left behind, yes; but certainly not as those who have no hope.
This past month, two of my aged family have departed this earthly life to the better abode prepared by Jesus. And while this is being experienced by individuals all over the nation, many of my immediate family have been involved somewhat with the former Truth Magazine, and now with the Guardian of Truth.
My maternal grandfather, Jodie Harrott, was buried December 17 at the old family cemetery, Sumpter, in Trinity County, Texas. When we Willis children were little, we only knew him as “Jodie.” My mother’s father had died with pneumonia when Mom was only two years old. Some of the later children affectionately called him “pop,” but he was always “Jodie” to us.
We accepted him as our beloved grandfather. . . however, few of us realized the great service that he had rendered. Possibly we could understand the challenge of a inexperienced man marrying a young widow with four children. That’s what he did! And he did a good work with those children.
My earliest introduction to Jesus and the church was by my grandfather. He was a farmer in Sylvester. . . but he preached every Sunday in the school building where the church met. He taught us Scripture memorization and recitation. Jodie and my grandmother were very instrumental in the lives of us Willis boys, and there were four of us who devoted our lives in the public proclamation of truth.
Jodie was 89 years old when he died. He left behind 16 grandchildren, 64 great grandchildren, 43 great great grandchildren, and one great great great grandchild. There were over 100 Christians in the immediate family, plus spouses and friends led to the Lord by his influence. Truly, instead of a time of utmost sorrow, his death and funeral service was a time for rejoicing.
Cecil and I joined together to say the public words at the service but truly “his works do follow after him. ” And I am confident that he would say, “To God be the glory.”
And I must also mention my saintly uncle, Jim Money, who was buried but a few days before. Uncle Jim was one of the finest gentlemen that one would desire to meet. He served the country during World War I. I never knew a time when he was not a faithful Christian. Too, I never heard him say an improper word. Many weeks were spent in his home by all of us in the family. We will miss them. But, we will see them again!
Two verses stick in my mind: “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints,” and “Blessed are the death that die in the Lord.
Pardon these personal remembrances, but a great day is passing in the history of the kingdom as these aged soldiers of the cross have passed. You see, my grandchildren will be fifth-generation Christians. And I am proud of the heritage that has gone before.
Rejoice with me: “Oh victory in Jesus!”
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 24, p. 747
December 19, 1985