Yesterday we heard on the news about Upper Big Ranch Mine in West Virgina that had collapsed trapping many miners and killing 25 instantly. One of the many who’s life ended was Benny R. Willingham. Benny was just five weeks from retirement. His daughter, Michelle McKinney, says he was looking forward to a Virgin Island cruise, but was also prepared for death.
"He talked about it all the time. He said if the Lord come and got him, he's ready," she said Tuesday as she clutched a photo of her parents and their youngest grandson. "He was a family man and he loved the Lord. We know where he's at, but we still want him to come back."
Just five weeks till he retired; and possibly a Cruise of a life time! I know my parents didn’t start traveling until my dad was near retirement age. They had 6 daughters and a home to care for; there was never any extra funds to take such a vacation. This may have also been true for Benny.
Yesterday I heard an interview that aired on K-love; it was Benny’s daughter Michelle and what wasn’t in the quote that the paper carried was that he wasn’t living “for” retirement, He lived for the one who loved Him more then he could ever love the thought of retirement. Benny’s words say it all; “If the Lord come and got him, he’s ready”
Matthew 19:16-24 (Today's New International Version)
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments."
18 "Which ones?" he inquired.
Jesus replied, " 'You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,' [a] and 'love your neighbor as yourself.' [b]"
20 "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"
21 Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly I tell you, it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God."
Here we have a rich man who’s interest is peaked about heaven and what Jesus is offering. He seems hungry to know; “What must a man do…” but as Jesus relays to him what he can do, I can in my minds eye see this rich man’s heart sink, “sell what I have and give to the poor” Now Jesus didn’t tell Him he had to give it all to the poor, but just to give to the poor. This rich man couldn’t handle the “sell what you have” part, so he never truly heard what Jesus had to say, in the end he can’t walk away from all that he has to follow Jesus, so he walks away from Jesus.
Benny’s statement made me think of this passage as here we have a coal miner who willing put his life in dangers way each day to provide for his family and evidently his local church. And maybe it’s that danger that helps him understand that life is not what you accumulate; or that nest egg for retirement, or that long awaited vacation. Life is today, today am I ready if Jesus should decide to come and get me? Would I say “please not yet Jesus… I want to see my son grow up, or my grandbabies graduate, or maybe your close to retirement like Benny, and Lord please let me enjoy my “golden years I’ve prepared and planned so well for this.
What is it your living for? Jesus? Or all that you have and hope to accumulate or do? I want to be like Benny and say “If the Lord come and get me, I’m ready!”