A Very Special Kind of Man

Today an old and dear friend of mine met Jesus.  I mean, literally. Face to face.

You see, he was enjoying Sunday dinner with his beautiful wife and close friends, and apparently a piece of his lunch put up a battle and some people might say that Ray lost.  But if you ask me, since he’s there with Jesus and I’m still here, I think Ray won.

My heart is broken, as are those of hundreds who know and love him.  His East Texas humor never stops.  His love for the Lord is boundless; his concern for friends bottomless; and he left so many wonderful, witty sayings, most of which are true, of course.

I moved away from Texas a while back, and haven’t seen Ray since then.  But his presence is eternal; his influence long-lasting, his laugh infectious enough to ring down through the years.  I hear that rich, delighted voice as he teased his friends, spreading a pure joy in living to all he knew.

Ray knew his talents, and wasn’t shy about telling you…he was a salesman and excellent at his trade.  He loved to tell you, “I can sell ice to Eskimoes.”  And if you’ve ever met Mr. Ray Bowling, even one time, you’ll agree with him.

I used to cook delicious (and terribly fattening) dishes for our church, and for our two families whenever we got together for fellowship, laughter, prayer, tears, whatever life brought our way.  Ray always enjoyed my cooking–the guys turned it into a contest sometimes, racing to see who got the last piece of pie.

Often I would hear Ray repeat the rich East Texas one-liners that I loved to hear, and even today I can hear him saying it one more time.   And in my imagination there was a ripple of laughter ringing across the halls of heaven, as Ray first laid eyes on heaven.  I can hear him saying,

“Now, that’ll set you free!”

Godspeed, Ray.  Save a place for me.

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