Riding Tall Through Death ValleyEighteen-year old Billy Schultz was born for battle. This young Texan was not known to back off from dangerous conflict. In fact, the challenge to conquer against all odds seemed to have drawn him into bull riding on his high school rodeo team.
A Brahma bull will test a man's mettle. The night before his first ride Billy admitted to a friend how scared he was. Yet he was cowboy enough to mount that bull anyway. And he kept hanging in there as a competitive bull rider over the next two years.
No one could have guessed that this young bull rider was being prepared for the toughest battle known to man. He met man's last and most powerful enemy through a sudden and unexpected turn of events at the hospital one day. He had checked in because of internal bleeding. Within hours the doctor told him he had leukemia and his chances of survival were slim.
I had known Billy most of his life. I was confident that he was ready to go, if the call came. However, I never dreamed I would see what I observed during the next three weeks.
Billy was full of life. He was in love. He had a good job and looked forward to getting married. How would he react to this life-threatening situation? He was confident and cheerful. His brother, Scott, told him he would get well and be a new man. "Yeah," Billy retorted, "either an new man or a man on the way to heaven." He told his rodeo buddies he was "The Leukemia Kid."
He kept the desire to fulfill his youthful dreams balanced with the joy of going to be with Christ. "If I get out of here," Billy assured me rather matter-of-factly, "I'm going to set my priorities straight. But if I don't get well, I'm going to a better place." After I shared some verses of Scripture with him one morning, he picked up his Bible and read to me "So don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time" (Matthew 6:34, Living Bible).
Billy began to see that staying here might not be God's best for him. As the shadow of death edged closer he remained cheerful. He winked mischievously at his girlfriend one morning and chided, "Why don't you wink at me?"
HIS PRAYER WAS ANSWERED
Wanting to prepare his mother for his departure, shortly before he died he confided to her, "I asked the Lord, if I'm not going to get well completely, to take me home." Late that night he had to be rushed to intensive care. The next day the family watched him struggling to breathe. He smiled and gave them the thumbs-up sign. He looked death-the king of terrors-in the eye and didn't blink. He rode tall through death valley into the bright, everlasting day on the other side.
Billy's assurance of life after death was based on the fact that "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Several years earlier Billy had seen his need and had put his trust in Christ alone for forgiveness of sins and eternal life. He would want you to do that, too, and know with him that, as the Bible says, "death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:54).
By Oliver W. Price
Used by permission of the American Tract Society 10/28/98. For free samples or catalog call 1-800-54-TRACT or www.gospelcom.net/ats
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