There are two residents of the Hollidaysburg Veterans Home whose names are familiar to FBCers: Clair Yingling and Bob Mulhollen. Both are long-time members of First Baptist Church. Both served in the Navy during World War II. (Bob suffered a severe injury in an accident and was transferred off the U.S.S. Arizona just days before it sank in Pearl Harbor.) And both love Jesus like nobody I've ever seen.
Both men are conscious of being near death, and both are eager for it, though each has concluded that since the Lord seems in no hurry to take them home they must still have some use down here. They're right. I know they're useful, because their faith is infectious. God is so real to them as to be almost physically tangible; they talk about heaven as if they are sitting in its waiting room. Their certainty is so supernatural that every time I visit one of them I walk away with the same thought: "Now I know that what I preach is true." Their faith is my sight.
When I'm with Clair or Bob, I find myself truly humbled that here, concealed from all the world in utter weakness, is one of the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, someone far greater than myself. What an honor it will be in eternity when they receive their public reward, and I, anonymous, will turn to the saint next to me in the teeming crowd and say, "He used to talk with me and let me pray for him."
I hope that now or in the near future you get to spend time with some such holy one close to his or her homegoing.
I visited Clair today. With the familiar sparkle in his crystal blue eyes he urged me to "pound into them that they can never get too much of Jesus." I told him as I have before that when I grow up I want to be just like him. With typical humility he replied, "No, you just be yourself." I want to be myself, of course. But when I'm Clair's age I want Clair's faith.