Monday Minutes With Pastor Chris McCool (June 6, 2022)

We live in a world that is cursed by sin. That fact is always present, but sometimes the sin curse manifests itself more than others. That was the case last Monday, when we received word that Mason’s first best friend at Pickens Academy died as a result of a seizure. He was twenty years old, in the prime of life, and his death not only shocked us, but shocked the entire community.

His name was Charlie Pierce Wilson – “CP” to his friends. He was a student at the University of Alabama, and was living his dream of being a manager for the University of Alabama basketball team. He was one of the most avid Alabama fans I’ve ever known, and liked to tell EVERYBODY about it! He was a good young man, vibrant, witty, and full of life. And, just like that, he was gone.

When Mason and CP were in kindergarten, they made plans to have a “spend the night” party for the first time. I will never forget driving down to Aliceville to pick him up at his house, and as I drove up CP was standing at the end of the driveway, suitcase packed, waiting on me to get there! His dad, Charlie, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Aliceville, said he’d been waiting there like that for at least 20-30 minutes. I’ll never forget his face when he saw me turning onto the road where they lived: it lit up in joy and anticipation for the weekend ahead!

That vision of CP is what popped into my mind immediately upon hearing of his passing: not the fully grown twenty year old who was now bigger and taller than me, but that precious little five or six year old standing at the end of the driveway for half an hour, waiting with great anticipation on a ride to a place where he knew he was going to have an awesome time with his best friend. I don’t remember the details of that weekend, except that there was a lot of playing and a lot of loudness! Mason and CP had about the same level of energy, which surpassed that of most other kids in their class, and I can tell you that the weekend was full of rambunctious plans executed at a high decibel level! I know time has passed, and he had grown and moved on to bigger and brighter things; but somehow I believe this is the vision I’ll aways have of him.

That vision of CP as a child wasn’t the only thing that popped into my head when I heard about his passing; my heart swelled with emotion as well. But interestingly, the initial emotional reaction I had actually wasn’t one of sympathy, or sorrow, or grief: it was anger! I remember clenching my fist, gritting my teeth, and just generally feeling outraged at this tragic news!

You may think I was committing sin by being angry, and if I had been angry at God, you would be right. But that was not why I was angry. I was not angry at God, because I know the Bible teaches that God is NOT the author of sin and death! I was angry at the one who was responsible for this tragic death: Adam.

Romans 5:12 states, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. . . .” Clearly the cause of death in this world is NOT God, but rather Adam. For those who ask “why” in situations like this, I have the answer: Adam, and Satan. Satan tempted Adam to sin; Adam sinned; death entered the world by his sin; and because of this sin-curse upon all of humanity, CP died last Monday.

And that makes me angry. Every time I hear of a tragedy like this – the loss of CP, the mass killings in Uvalde, TX, the daily bombardment of violence and death – I get angry at the fact that this world is cursed by sin, and death appears to reign supreme! I HATE death, and always have!

I’m in good company in hating death, I believe. At the tomb of Lazarus, we see Jesus “groaning in himself” (John 11:28). That word “groaning” carries the connotation of “anger” and “indignation,” literally meaning “to snort with anger”. You see, when Jesus was at the tomb of Lazarus, He was face to face with death, the one He called an “enemy” (see 1 Cor. 15:26), and Jesus Himself was angry about it! I don’t know all the reasons for this, but I believe at the very least it shows sympathy and empathy with His friends Mary and Martha, and it also demonstrates that He understood fully the implications of death and the curse of sin in this world, and what He was going to have to do to remedy the situation.

So I think I’m in good company when I say that I hate death. Death was Christ’s enemy, and it is my enemy. It is the enemy of every child of God. And it frustrates me greatly when I hear tragic tidings like the death of CP, because there’s nothing I can do about death except deal with it!

But I didn’t stay angry. My anger passed pretty quickly, and in its place came sorrow, grief, sympathy – all the normal emotions related to death. But also, I felt something else: a peace that passeth all understanding (Phil. 4:7). A peace that surpasses all the terrible circumstances of life, including the horrible news about CP’s passing.

Why did I have peace, when there was nothing I could do about death? Because I know One Who not only CAN do something, but already HAS done something about it! Jesus Christ came to this sin-cursed world as fully God, yet fully Man, and put death to death on the Cross! His finished work destroyed him who had the power of death, and delivered those who lived their lives in the bondage of the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-18).

And that puts my vision of CP, standing at the end of driveway, waiting expectantly for a ride, in a completely different light. Don’t get me wrong: I’ll still grieve his passing, and long for the days of two loud kindergarteners turning the house upside down as they tear through it, yelling to the top of their lungs! But what I think of now is not so much the face of five-year-old CP lighting up with a childish excitement when he saw me coming to pick him up, but the face of twenty-year-old CP erupting with divine joy when he saw his Savior as He picked CP up and took him home last Monday! The joy he now experiences makes every great weekend he’s ever had seem like the dullest of times!

And that comforts me greatly in my sorrow. I know that it is the great hope that is both steadfast and sure and an anchor of the soul (Heb. 6:19) that sustains his father Charlie, his mother Jill, his sister Allie, and the rest of his family. CP is in heaven today, all because his wonderful Savior loved him with an everlasting love, and finished the work of eternal redemption on the cross!

I look forward to seeing my little buddy CP again one day. But this time, he’s already in the place that fulfills all expectations, and which I myself look forward to seeing with great joy and anticipation! Praise our Lord for His complete redemption, that assures us of a place with Him in heaven!

May the Lord bless you is my prayer.

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor