SERVE GOD. SEEK HEAVEN. (The Passing of Dee Bowman)
Many in the church knew Dee Bowman. He was a fantastic preacher who was well-traveled and very beloved. He was also a mentor of mine. I think everyone who knew him, loved him. He had a way of making everyone feel important and loved. His messages were packed with practical truths that urged us to greater spiritual growth. This past week, he finished his race and has gone to meet the Lord whom he loved and served. As I reflect on his life and death, I am mindful of two things.
First, his departure (and the departure of those like him) leave a void that someone must fill.
There was an older generation of preachers and Christians who were, from my perspective, simply amazing. They were courageous and bold. They were extremely well-versed in the Scriptures. They were hardened by spiritual wars inside and outside the church, yet they were still filled with love for God and the brethren. They were pillars in our times. And they are dying out. But as they leave to enjoy their eternal reward, it now falls on others to take up their mantel. Like Elisha who did the work of God after Elijah was taken, so now others must step up to fill the growing void, brought on by old age and death. Who will answer the charge?
Will we dedicate ourselves to being equal students of God’s word, not only for our own spiritual health, but so that we can boldly call out false teaching and help teach those who are around us? Who will be the great encouragers, pushing the Christians and churches to greater spiritual and strength? It falls on us who are living (and not just preachers) to do what we can while we yet live.
I’ll be honest, the examples that have been set by the great Christians who have gone before us are daunting. Who can live up to such things? But I imagine the previous generation felt the same way in regards to those who mentored them. I also imagine that’s a little like what Timothy felt when Paul was handing the duties of the ministry and gospel to him (II Tim. 2:2; 4:1-4).
Second, I’m reminded of what really matters in life.
There is one quote from Dee Bowman that I have seen repeated over and over in tributes this week. It resonated with Christians and focused us on what truly matters. I myself, remember him saying these very words in multiple sermons over the years. I heard him say it when his voice was strong. I remember hearing it as his voice weakened and health failed him. It was his mantra. The quote?
“If you miss heaven, you’ve just missed all there is.”
What will it matter if we gain the whole world and lose our souls? If you put all of your effort into being liked, and somehow get to a point where the whole world speaks well of you and wants to be with you, what good will that be on the day of judgment? If you spend all of your effort in younger years getting an education and then working diligently, putting in countless hours and work to such a degree that you become CEO of a fortune 100 company, what will this accomplishment mean on the day of judgment? If you put all of your effort into getting married and having children, what will that mean on the day of judgment?
Someday we will all die and meet our Maker, then we will give an answer for our life and discover the true consequences of our choices.
- The most famous people will find that they are unknown (Mt. 7:22).
- The people who lived a life of pleasure will find their afterlife is filled with pain (Lk. 16:23).
- The people who lived a life focused on just being happy will find themselves in a place of weeping (Mt. 8:12; 13:42,50).
- The people who craved money and material things will find themselves poor and destitute (Mt. 6:19-20; I Tim. 6:7; Rev. 3:17).
- The people who live for power and glory will find themselves destroyed (II Thes. 1:9).
But imagine if you dedicated your life to pleasing God, to seeking Him, to knowing Him. Imagine what death brings for you then. It will not be the loss of all your dreams but the realization of all you’ve hoped for. You will hear from God, “Well done” (Mt. 25:21). You will get to see Him (Mt. 25:8; I John 3:2; Rev. 22:4) and to be with Him for all of eternity (Rev. 21:3). What could be better than that? No matter the sacrifices we must make. No matter the pain we must endure. No matter the length of time we must persevere. In the end, such a prize will make it all worthwhile.
Our beloved brother Bowman was right. If we miss heaven, we’ve missed all that there is.