As I mentioned last week, a family friend, Charlie “Rowdy” Yates, passed away on Saturday, September 22. I met Mr. Yates when I was 15 or 16 and was struck by the way he interacted with high school students. He was a fun guy to hang around and had, I suppose, a certain goofiness to his personality, but it wasn't frivolity. There was a deepness in his quirky sense of humor. I can remember him (on several ocassions) suddenly quoting John Wayne to me, and I wasn't sure if I should be laughing or taking notes.In the days since his passing, I’ve read several great articles about his life. I had the chance to watch some of his memorial service online. Thinking about him and his family, three things struck me. First, I wish I had known him better. I knew so little about the life of someone my family went to church with for many years. I felt a sense of regret for not asking him more things about himself.
Second, I was struck by how consistent of a person he was. The stories about Mr. Yates as a high school kid seemed eerily similar to the Mr. Yates I knew in his fifties. Even his jokes hadn’t changed over several decades.Finally, I was blessed by the way in which Mr. Yates finished the race. In the final minutes of his life, his true character was displayed. The man who talked about the sovereignty of God and the value of His Word was revealed to be a man who truly believed the things he had always proclaimed. His faith was revealed to be genuine and abiding.
At the end of his life, he continued to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and communicate His Word to others. Here’s a great article that describes his passing: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2012/09/23/family-mourns-airplane-crash-victim/
The final moments of his life remind me of 2 Timothy 4:6-8:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Matt Stutzman, who knew Mr. Yates as a Sunday School teacher and flight instructor wrote the following about the things Mr. Yates taught him:
He was my Sunday School teacher, one of the people I met my first day at Countryside. He taught me “the handshake,” and the 5 Lies of the culture: 1) Life is Random (It’s not, God is absolutely Sovereign), 2) Truth is Relative (it’s not, God has revealed absolute Truth in His inerrant Word), 3) Man is Basically Good (we’re not, just try to stop sinning if you believe that), 4) You are the Only One Who Can Change Yourself (you can’t, only a supernatural heart transplant can do that), and 5) The Purpose in Life is to Seek Self-Satisfaction (no, the purpose of our life and all of Creation is to glorify our Creator, and we do that by becoming a reflection of Jesus Christ).
The circumstances of my demise—and your own—are at this moment unknown. My prayer is that I will be able to cross the finish line with the same joy as Charlie “Rowdy” Yates.
By His Grace,
By His Grace,