Friday, June 24, 2011


Here is an article my good friend Bill Gillham wrote awhile back. He has now graduated as did his wife, Anabel, a few months ago. Bill has had a tremendous impact on countless people including me. I was privileged to be the Gillhams Pastor for several years in the late seventies and early eighties at Southcliff Baptist Church in Fort Worth Texas and was always blessed when they were in the congregation as I would preach. They would both be enraptured as they would listen and follow the message in scripture. No one has ever been better fellow saints or pastor encouragers than were they to me.
As I said, Bill has graduated and joined Anabel and Mason, their son, to await family and friends left behind. Look over your shoulder Bill, I'm not too far behind.  

God says in His Love Letter to us:
“You know that if the earthly tent which was our [To make it personal, substitute the pronouns with your name. I'll use my name “Bill.”] house is torn down, Bill has a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 

For indeed in this house Bill groaned, longing to be clothed with his dwelling from heaven; 

For indeed while Bill was in this tent, he groaned, being burdened, because he did not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” 

II Corinthians 5:1-2,4
God separates Bill's “earthly tent” (or earthsuit) from the real Bill—Bill, the personality and spirit—who formerly indwelled it. Does God say Bill's earthsuit “groaned” or that “Bill groaned” inside his body? It's the latter. The true Bill is the saint who indwelled that old earthsuit that wore out like an old car.
Sometimes earthsuits, like cars, may look fine on the outside, but have vital parts that go awry. The earthsuit is somewhat similar to the booster rocket on the shuttle. When it's completed its work, it falls to the earth while the payload soars on to the target it was aimed for. The payload is the real Bill, the true Bill, the spirit-soul person who formerly indwelled the earthsuit. God uses physical death to peel away the physical husk enabling the inner spirit-critter to enjoy heaven to its fullest. I believe Bill now moves with the speed of thought, that he's no longer limited by time and space.
You and I do not fear death. We know what awaits us. We know that we have a glorious future, a glorious eternity. The thing that may bother us is the dying part, the event or perhaps the long, sometimes painful process by which we enter into God's presence. Being left behind as a loved one dies doubtless looks difficult or even frightening as is the case with any dramatically new experience. Being left behind is very unsettling. But He promises you that He will take good care of you. In fact, it is He who has been taking good care of you for all these years, even throughBill. He is faithful. He will come through on His promises to you and yours.
C.S. Lovett said that physical death is the saint's “graduation day”. Just as you and I experienced numerous emotions as we marched into the auditorium to graduate from school, we're now marching toward the halls of glory. Paul said to us, “To be absent from the [earthsuit] is to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8). Jesus is beckoning; He and “Bill” are both saying, “You'll never believe how great this is! This is really living for the very first time!” Jesus is saying, “You've got it made. You're going to cross that stage to get your diploma, even if I have to carryyou across, but you will graduate (Philippians 1:6). Trust Me. And when you have your diploma in hand, Bill and I are going to begin explaining the glorious, active, eternity I have planned for you both” (Jeremiah 29:11, LB). On that day more than ever, we'll be dying to live.


Aussie John said...


I have never read a better tribute to brethren in Christ.

I'm "not too far behind" either, and am looking forward to graduation day, that I may meet up with such saints as you have described.

I love the earthsuit/booster rocket analogy.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

You would have loved Bill..and he you. Correction, you will one day!

Christiane said...

"The true Bill is the saint who indwelled that old earthsuit that wore out like an old car."

I felt that way about my good father who passed away after much suffering. His worn-out body just couldn't hold 'the real Pop' anymore and my father went on ahead of us.