So I returned to Abilene this weekend spur of the moment. It is a difficult time to come back into town because it is Oplin Church of Christ that brings me back to town.
Douglas Foy Sellers, or Doug, and we called him, passed away after a long, hard life this Wednesday morning. But you would never know that he had a hard life. He led with a genuine character and a love of telling stories that rivalled none. I remember him ordering food for me wherever we went. I remember him calling me up to tell me that “God has put it on our (Doug/Ruth) heart to buy you a pair of boots.” I told him that I couldn’t argue with God and that it would be a blessing, and it surely was. Doug was genuine-himself- said what he felt and normally what he felt was compassionate and caring and I knew that he made a deep impact on my life. No, he wasn’t the greatest person I knew, but he was one of those special people that reflect what life is all about and show you that life can be what you make it. He had a hard life, but he made it a story of God’s love and grace in his life and made that story somehow full of compassion and joy and then told everyone about it. His wife told me before the funeral that he didn’t need to preached into heaven, and surely he didn’t need that at all, because Doug knew God all too well when he was here and God was with him- I needed to see that was possible when I came to Abilene. Thank you Lord for Doug Sellers.
And Bill Nichols, another member of Oplin, had quadruple bypass surgery this past week. He is doing well now, but he certainly went through the ringer with all his heart trouble. But he is back, recovering well, and calling out his wife for telling him what to do! I love that family. His words of gratitude for me are well received, but I am struck by the insights this experience brings up. In all of Bill’s despair this week, he has learned how much he is loved and cared for and just how many people are thinking about him. In all of Bill’s despair, he has been able to find that God is working and that God’s fingerprints are all over his life. I was struck because as I look back, my time in Abilene has God’s fingerprints all over it. God brought me into relationships with Jeremy Hegi, Wilson McCoy, Laura Clark, Chad Lukkason, Jerry Taylor, Armando Canales, Victoria Canales (Blue’s grandma), Chris Boknevitz and Steve Sargent. God brought me into relationships, more to the point, with Oplin- with Doug and Ruth, Bill and Rose, Chuck and Cora, the late Evelyn Scott, Lowell and Winona, Robert and Lori Oglesby, Tom and Heather, Mckenna and Bailey, and the sweet Maxine. These relationships had God’s fingerprints all over them.
It’s sad that Doug has moved on, though I celebrate with tears of joy that he is God’s embrace now. It’s sad that Bill has had quad heart surgery and is struggling, even though I celebrate his recovery. It’s sad that Oplin doesn’t have a long future- but I celebrate because God is a God of surprises, and Oplin was the greatest surprise I have ever known (I did not see Abilene as offering very much). And I praise God for how he works mysteriously and through darkness and surprises to touch us deeply. Praise God for Oplin Church of Christ! May I ever be a missionary of theirs who reflects in my love the God who is working in them!