As the rain pours outside this morning, the blessings are overflowing on the inside as I thank God for two very special men who met Jesus face to face this past week. Tom Brokaw has accurately described these two as members of “The Greatest Generation.” Robert Jackson Hester lived to be 91½ years old. He served in the Army Air Corps for four years. Jack then attended and graduated from Texas Tech when it was Texas Technological College and was there at the same time as my parents. Lubbock, West Texas, and sports were part of our conversations many Sundays. Being in the petroleum business, the Hesters resided in several places in Texas and were active members of the Baptist church wherever they lived. Even though we were coming from different parts of town, most Sundays, Jack, Larry, and I would arrive at church at the same time and greet each other in the parking lot. He was also one of the people I looked forward to visiting with once we were inside the church. Jack still took attendance in one of the first grade departments at Tallowood. Each Sunday, he would slip out during the invitation so he could be there to greet the children as they came to Sunday School. I found myself thinking about, missing, and thanking God for Jack Hester when we arrived at church this past Sunday and wishing he could have beat us there at least one more time.
Lester Blackshear Collins, Jr. was 15 days shy of his 93rd birthday when he died on August 14. He served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. Lester served as pastor of several Baptist churches and then retired after serving 20 years as pastor of Tallowood Baptist Church. He was the pastor when the church called Larry to be the Jr. High Minister in January of 1979. Lester was our boys’ pastor during their growing up years. He taught, lived, and modeled what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus. We learned the importance of reading, studying, memorizing, and applying God’s Word. One of my favorite memories of Lester is that every time he baptized, he always concluded that time with, “And still there is room for more.” Even after retirement, Lester was still a pastor at heart. He pastored several churches as interim and also served as pastor emeritus of Tallowood. Five years ago, he and his wife, Jan, founded the Chapel Sunday School class at Tallowood which now has 110 members. Lester would still preach at Tallowood from time to time and two weeks ago, he drove himself to Dallas to preach at his grandson’s church. The doctors and nurses at Hermann Hospital, Memorial City were the last recipients of his pastoral love and care. I will miss his wisdom, encouragement, firm handshakes, and hugs and kisses on the cheek as we passed in the aisle on Sunday mornings and evenings.
Both Jack and Lester served God until they took their last breath on earth and their first breath in Heaven. I can just picture God smiling and giving each one of them a big hug while saying, “Well done good and faithful servant” and then turning to us to say, “And still there is room for more.” The baton has been passed and it’s our time to run with God’s message of grace, forgiveness, hope, and love.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6-8
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.