Death. It is one of the few certainties in life. Death is the enemy we all have to face. Some face it with old age in a battle with sickness; people leave this earth quickly, and others die young. Even Jesus died when he was 33 years old.
On February 18th, 2019, Mr.Carlton Gill completed his life on earth at 78 years of age. Mr. Gill was the grandfather of 2017 Calvary graduate Tripp Longgrear and current Calvary senior Lance Longgrear. I attended the funeral to support them and their parents, Bo and Carlyn, who are both friends and supporters of Calvary. Bo is one of my mentors, and I have much respect for Carlyn. The service was well attended and wasn’t brief. I’ve never heard “Silent Night”sung at a funeral before, but at Mr. Gill’s request, it was sung by all in attendance. In total, four songs were sung, and the friends and family in attendance heard great sermons from Heather Gill and Cam Huxford.
Giving a eulogy is tough, even more so when your parent lays in the wooden casket a few feet in front of you. But Heather Gill spoke in a manner worthy of her father’s legacy. We heard the loving memories she shared with her father and family. She told stories that garnered some laughs and a few tears. But the point she wanted those listening to hear was that first and foremost, her father loved the Lord--that each decision her dad made was done prayerfully. The line that really stuck with me was, “My daddy live his life knowing that pleasing God was the most important thing.” When she said it, I glanced to my right at the pallbearers and noticed they all were nodding in approval. When I leave this earth, I pray I am remembered that way.
If you’ve never heard Cam Huxford, Senior Pastor at Compassion Christian Church in Savannah, preach, you are missing out. Pastor Cam and Mr. Gill were close. If my notes are accurate, he watched Carlton and Joy Gill walked into the church Cam pastored 21 years ago. And yes, I was taking notes at a funeral. It was that powerful.
Mr. Gill was a tall man. He played basketball for Georgia Teachers College aka Georgia Southern University and the University of Georgia. Cam stated the obvious, because of Mr. Gill’s large statue, he had authority. But Carlton never abused that authority because he was under the Almighty’s authority. To paraphrase Pastor Huxford, Carlton put His principle ahead of his preferences.
Pastor Huxford asked the audience to turn to Luke 7:1-7. He read to help paint the picture of Jesus and the Centurion’s servant. From those seven verses, he gave the listeners five questions to help determine a “good man”:
How does he treat other people?
What do other people think of him?
What does he think about himself?
What does he think of Jesus?
What does Jesus think of him?
I felt convicted when answering those questions about myself. Do I treat those around me with the respect they deserve? The Centurion was highly valued by the Jews in Capernaum even though he occupied the region for the Roman Empire. This foreign soldier helped the people of a conquered nation build their synagogue.
Am I considered worthy like the Centurion? These Jewish leaders vouched for a commander of an opposing army. He was able to have authority over others while also loving them. Would a team we defeat in a competition speak highly of us after a win? To be honest, I can’t think of a time in my youth when I considered the feelings of my opponent after a victory.
Do I have the faith of this commander in the Roman army? The Centurion did not have a relationship with Jesus but knew of the power Christ possessed. I struggle turning things over to the Lord.
After the funeral, I felt that those who knew Mr. Gill knew confidently about how those questions would have been answered concerning his life. Tomorrow is not promised, and Carlton lived his life accordingly. My prayer is that I live my life prepared to meet Jesus as Mr. Carlton Gill did.