Remembering Billy Dickerson

New Testament Reading

5 “I am telling you the truth,” replied Jesus, “that no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 A person is born physically of human parents, but he is born spiritually of the Spirit.   …14 As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert, in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.   16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.   17 For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior (John 3:5, 6, 14-17)

13 We are sure that we live in union with God and that he lives in union with us, because he has given us his Spirit.  14 And we have seen and tell others that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  15 If anyone declares that Jesus is the Son of God, he lives in union with God and God lives in union with him.  16 And we ourselves know and believe the love which God has for us. God is love, and whoever lives in love lives in union with God and God lives in union with him (1 John 4:13-16)

16 Never again will they hunger or thirst; neither sun nor any scorching heat will burn them, 17 because the Lamb, who is in the center of the throne, will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:16, 17)

INTRODUCTION

There are many reasons why we read Scriptures before we talk at a funeral:

One of which is that without the reminder of God’s grace that we read today, I could just stand up here and whine and complain and mope.

And, we might say, we have a right to whine and complain.

  • Billy was young!
  • He could have lived 30-40 more years.

But I believe that Billy would not want us to be sitting around moping.

If he ever saw us like this, he would have something clever and biting to say that would jar us back to reality.

And Billy understood reality, and I believe he understands it now more than ever, … Reality is that this life is not all that we are about.

There is another life. As we read in the obituary, Billy grew up in an active Christian home and accepted Jesus as his savior at a young age.

Billy was confronted with his mortality and future death while he was a child. He made a decision at that time, which is paying dividends today…the decision he made as a child, makes this day a day of rejoicing!

At least, that is what Billy is doing!

I.         Who was Billy Dickerson?

I read the following remarks about Billy this week:

·      “The world lost an amazing man, but this is Heaven’s gain. Our family will rejoice in his life and of his love and thank God we had the opportunity to be with him on Earth.”[1]
·      “Love you always Uncle Billy-you’re home now with our Lord and we can rejoice knowing we’ll see you when we get to Heaven-meet me at the gates.”[2]
·      “You will always have a special place in my heart!!…Billy was the best uncle anyone could ever have. We were truly blessed to have him in our lives!”[3]
·      “Billy personified goodness, humor, and kindness. He will never be forgotten.”[4]
·      “Billy had a way of making anyone feel welcomed and his sense of humor was the best! Thankful to know he has no more pain and is probably making Jesus laugh!”[5]

II.         Billy loved life and he loved his family.

Whenever there was a family event, every one who attended contributed to the scene, but Billy would make the scene.

Yes, he had a great (but dry) sense of humor, but he also was perhaps one of the most outgoing of all of us

He was as bright as a bolt of lightning, and quick as one, too.

He spoke into our lives with wisdom and friendliness.

He was so trustworthy and proud (in a good way, I might add). If Billy was involved in a project we had no worries…everything would be fine.

He was often the first to arrive when a problem needed to be solved. He loved his family and friends in word and deed.

Billy’s battle with cancer gave us an opportunity to see what life would be like in his absence…and Life Does continue on!

And if I may add, it continues fine and well, because we had the privilege of knowing Billy.

We had the opportunity to learn from him, and what we have learned will continue to be a part of our lives and our conversations for the rest of the time that we are on earth.

Billy was brave. He showed us how to live and he showed us how to die. He died too young, but none of us know how much longer we have to be alive, either.

III.         Do we walk away from Billy’s passing the same as we were before?

Or do we grow from this? Do we take the time to value our families? Our parents and grandparents;

To value our spouses; our children and our grandchildren;

To value our brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews.

Do we continue on with no thought of the future?

  • How we should LIVE our lives now?
  • How we should be ready for death?
  • What will happen to our families after our death?
  • What will happen to US after our death?

Barbara requested most of the Scriptures that we have read today.

In John 3, Jesus tells a Hebrew Religious leader that no one can enter heaven unless he is born of the Spirit…aka, “born again,” or “born from above.”

The Scripture continued to teach that if we believe in Jesus, we will enter heaven.

Being born again and believing in Jesus are one in the same thing.

IV.         What was it that Billy did when he was so young that gave him courage as he met with his mortality?

He believed in the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross.

God’s plan to solve our curse of death that we will all face was to send His Son to face death with us, and for us.

We have no control over whether we can live or die, but we can follow Billy’s example and LIVE while we live as believers in the One who died and was resurrected: Jesus the Messiah!

Billy was no dummy.

Billy was strong and brave, from childhood.

I learned that when he was young, his teacher tried to teach him not to say “ain’t” and since Billy was from Virginia, that ain’t easy to do J

The teacher said, “Instead of ‘ain’t’ say, isn’t.”

Well, one day, Billy saw a six legged black creature crawling on his school desk,

and instead calling it an “ant” he said,

“teacher, there’s an ‘isn’t’ on my desk.

I just learned yesterday that Billy had to face a challenging issue when he was very young. He did not speak clearly, but stammered.

I wonder how many of us in this room knew that before now.

Billy went to an Easter Seals camp and was helped there.

V.         Billy was helped as a child, and he wanted to help others.

He was an encourager who not only made suggestions and encouraged service of the church in the community, but he was a participant:

  • Cutting firewood for those who needed it
  • Participating in Habitat for Humanity projects with church
  • Helping to clean a new park in Appomattox
  • Participating in the Relay for life

VI.         Billy loved others and he loved God.

We read also today in the Scriptures that God is love and the whoever lives in love lives in God and God lives in him.

God was already living in Billy, don’t you think?

That is not a hard sell.

That is not hard to believe.

In the Scriptures we have a story about a young man named Stephen.

Here was a brilliant orator. And a leader as well as a servant (he was one of the first deacons)…he truly illustrated the teaching of Jesus that if you want to be first be the least and the servant of all.

I SEE BILLY AS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF THIS AS WELL!

But God allowed Stephen to die…to be killed because of his belief in Jesus.

Why did God let Stephen die? Couldn’t Stephen have gone on and become a missionary and taken the gospel around the world and back?

Yes, Stephen could have, but God chose him, sooner.

To God, the death of those who love Him is a graduation experience.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Psalm 116:15 (NIV)

VII.         One day we will all die, what will happen then?

Billy taught us while he was alive, and even now on this day that we gather to remember him, that the value of a man is not measured by the number of years he has lived but by the fullness of those yearsnot in quantity but in quality!

CONCLUSION

I’ve known Billy Dickerson since 1967. I have memories of Billy and Barbara’s wedding, here, and visiting them in Newport News.

Billy came into my life as an uncle-IN-LAW.

He quickly realized that he could not remain an in-law, but a family member.

Billy joined ranks with all of my other strict uncles who tried to whoop me into shape.

Barbara says that when they married here in this church, she wanted at least one niece or nephew from each family involved.

That is probably why I remember the wedding…I was not allowed to participate, and my brother was.

I was hyper, I was mischievous, I was four!

But, what a tribute to my uncle, Billy, that I can share on this day these words.

Billy was one of many who contributed to who I am, and for that I am thankful.

And each of us are thankful for all that God has done in our lives through Billy.

I have one final verse to share from the Old Testament, that fits Billy so well:

…the LORD has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.

Micah 6:8

Billy is walking with God now, because he walked with God while he was here!

Let’s pray:

Almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, We thank you for the life that YOU lived in the life of Billy Dickerson.

We ask your kindness to be shown to his family at this time and forever, as your Son promised comfort to all those who mourn

We thank you for the promise that You

…will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes.” (Revelation 7:16, 17)

We pray this in Jesus’ Name,

A-men.


[1] Allison Goin Wash, niece.

[2] Jaime Goin Musick, niece.

[3] Gina Adams Mitchell, niece.

[4] Cheryl Adams Rychkov, niece.

[5] Clover Harris, niece (in-law).

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6 Responses to Remembering Billy Dickerson

  1. emilykazakh says:

    Dad,
    This is wonderful.

  2. Gina A. Mitchell says:

    Peyton, your words are so meaningful and true. Billy will certainly be missed but never, ever forgotten! AND…Thank you for being a very special cousin!

  3. cr says:

    So happy your eloquent elegy to Billy has an online home. Thank you again, and hope to see you before your return to Kaz!

  4. Timmy and Jeanette Moore says:

    Bill and Barbara bought our farm on the James River and we really had a chance to get to know them well. They both are wonderful Christian people. My husband especially loved Bill’s hard work ethic since he loves to work hard also, we knew with them buying the farm it would taken care of and enjoyed.

    We have lost a dear friend and we know the family will miss him so much but they can take comfort in knowing he is no longer suffering and is rejoicing with Jesus.

    Thank you for this posting.

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