As I write this (Jan. 31st) much of the nation is in a deep freeze of cold weather. The high in Chicago today is -12! And yet, this weekend they’re predicting 64 decrees in Nashville!

We spent two weeks of January ministering in Arizona, Texas and Southern California. As is my custom when preparing for a trip I checked the weather for a week before we left to get some idea of what to expect. When we’re headed to the Southwest I often don’t bother because I’ve come to expect balmy temperatures there regardless of the season. But I had caught a few days of news in the days before we left and it was actually as warm or warmer in Nashville than it was in Phoenix! So, I paid closer attention than I would normally.

Also, we were on tour for two-and-a-half weeks and experience has taught me that being gone that long can include some unforeseen weather events. When you’re 2,000 miles from home and encounter a cold snap you can’t exactly run back to the house and grab a jacket. And I must admit that I don’t have a lot of reserve body heat. I get chilled easily and it’s not an experience I relish. I’m probably telling you all this to justify the fact that I took enough clothes to last me all winter in any climate from Antarctica to the Sahara. I never participated in Boy Scouts but their motto, “Be Prepared,” is my motto as well. I really dislike being somewhere far from home and thinking to myself, “I have a jacket hanging in my closet at home that is perfect for the weather today.”

The net result of all this is that I had about four different jackets in anticipation of changing temps and precipitation, and clothes for hot, cold, wet, dry, and everything in between. It looked like I had left home when I loaded my clothes on the bus before we left town.

It strikes me that life is a little like that. You think you have things figured out or at least you’re in a comfortable routine of habits and a schedule that makes sense at least most of the time. And then life sends in a cold front that defies predictions and logic as far as we can tell. January has been that way for Butch and his family. Most of you know Butch Owens, our bass vocalist. Butch has been with us for almost seven years and is about the best quartet guy I have ever worked with. He not only sings bass, but is our road manager as well. He contacts the people we’re going to sing for and schedules our leaving and load in times, etc. He also does the lion’s share of the driving. If and when he ever chooses to leave, it would take at least two, if not three, people to replace him.

Butch comes from a very close knit family. He and his wife, Margaret, have been married forever and have two adult children, Adrianne and Ian. Ian sings bass with Soul’d Out Quartet. Butch graduated high school with Margaret’s older sister, Sheree and, as such, they have been close for many years. At Christmas, Sheree was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of biliary cancer and given 6-12 months at best. As she is single, Butch and Margaret, with Sheree’s agreement, made the decision to move her from Mississippi to their home in Spring Hill, TN where they could take care of her. When she had been there a week God chose to shorten her suffering dramatically and He took her home January 29th. Her funeral is tomorrow, Feb. 1st.

If life is anything, it’s uncertain. The only certainty is death; unless you have placed your faith and trust in Christ’s atoning death as being sufficient for your sins. If that is true of you there is yet another, even greater certainty and that is eternal life! Sheree is in the presence of her Savior as I write, seeing things we can only imagine.

Life can be like the weather—ever changing and unpredictable. But eternal life can be certain with one decision—the decision to trust Christ for salvation. I often say I’m glad that God didn’t make it so complicated that only the intellectuals could figure it out. And I’m glad He didn’t make it so expensive that only the wealthy could afford it. No, He made it simple for people like me and paid the price ahead of time so all we have to do is believe and receive. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. But eternity with God is available to all who will believe in God’s provision for us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Don’t let anyone complicate the message of the gospel for you. It’s simple enough for whosoever will.

—Billy Blackwood

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About The Author

Billy Blackwood

Billy Blackwood, the younger son of gospel music legend James Blackwood, Sr., currently leads his father’s legendary group, the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. Before rejoining the Blackwood Brothers in 2009, Billly served in a pastoral role in his former home church, and served as the worship leader at another local church for seven years prior to pastoring. He is also a songwriter, grateful husband and father to his five children.

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