10 October 2008

A Girl Named Skylar

A long time before this beautiful girl named Skylar was born, I visited the church where she and her family worshiped together. It was in 1953 or 1954, I was a freshman in college at the time, and went with a preacher friend and his family one Sunday to worship with this group of Christians. I remember it so well because the brethren at that time used real wine in the communion. I didn’t know it was wine, and not just grape juice, before I drank it but I will guarantee you that I knew it was wine after I swallowed it. Forget worship, I coughed and gagged for the next thirty minutes.

This small congregation is located just south of a community called Deatsville, Alabama. The building sets a good distance off the highway. There are massive oak trees practically on every side of the building with large roots protruding from the ground. The steps leading up to the front entrance are steep and many. The setting is serene and pastoral as a rural church building should be. Over the intervening years I have preached in gospel meetings, spoken on special occasions and have ‘filled in’ for the regular preacher for this congregation numerous times. During these visits with the Cold Springs Church I became acquainted with most of the families that attend the assemblies there. And that brings me to Skylar Norton.

On the Sunday mornings when Virginia and I would arrive at the church building for Sunday School usually Rick and his two children would already be there. Jamie, the wife and mother would arrive later. The father would open the building and he and his two children, Skylar and Tyler would begin various duties. Usually Tyler would begin sweeping the leaves off the front porch and the steps. Skylar would go to the room where the communion bread and grape juice were located. She then would prepare the communion for use in the worship assemblies. It seems that this was her job. She did it for a long time. Virginia tried to help her once and she replied kindly, “I can do it myself.” Skylar was a beautiful and sweet child. You could see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice. She was always ‘lady-like’.

She was a Daddy’s girl. He would take her hunting with him and give her the opportunity to harvest a deer. She and her younger brother were inseparable. She was greatly loved by all her family. I knew her grandfather Tillman while we were in college. It was on a Friday evening of October 3, 2008 that as a member of the Holtville High School Marching Band she was preparing for the football game that old Death descended like a tornado and struck down this precious thirteen year old child in the presence of her classmates. But Death did not get the victory because God sent His angels quickly to gather the spirit of Skylar and brought that lovely child to rest in a paradise prepared for His children.

There was much rejoicing by the host of angels that such a beautiful child had been brought home. But on this side of eternity there were the hearts of her father, mother, brother and all her family and friends that were broken. There were uncontrollable emotions being vented through the rivers of tears that were being shed. As frail human beings we began to ask “Why”? It is not that we doubted God but as little children we just did not understand why such a beautiful child as Skylar should have her short life to end so soon on this earth. When all the disasters struck Job and that included the deaths of his ten children he still said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Perhaps in that better land we will know the answers to our questions about the tragedies we have had to suffer in this life. Here is a rather lengthy poem I want to leave with you that hopefully it will give comfort to her parents and loved ones.

(Author unknown)

“I’ll lend you, for a little while,
A child of mine,” God said,
“For you to love the while he lives,
And mourn for when he’s dead.

It may be six or seven years
Or twenty-two or three;
But will you, ‘til I call him back,
Take care of him for me?

He’ll bring his charms to gladden you
And, should his stay be brief,
You’ll have his lovely memories
As a solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from earth return;
But there are lessons taught below
I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked the whole world over
In search for teachers true;
And from the things that crowd life’s land
I have chosen you.

Now, will you give him all your love
Nor think the labor vain?
Nor hate me when I come to take
This lent child back again?

I fancied that I heard them say:
“Dear Lord, Thy will be done.
For all the joys Thy child will bring
The risk of grief we’ll run.

We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
We’ll love him while we may –
And for the happiness we’ve known
Forever grateful stay.

But should Thy Angel call for him
Much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes
And try to understand.”

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