Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pieces of the Puzzle

In Loving Memory of
William S. Pirtle
1930 - 2008


The other morning Pallie Sue and I walk into the intensive care room where Bill had just passed away.

As I looked at Donnie I said, "Donnie, the last piece of the puzzle of Bill’s life has been put into place."

Donnie said to me, "Yes, and the last piece went in quick as the twinkling of an eye!"

Why I said that I do not know. I had not been thinking about Bill’s passing as a puzzle. Since then Donnie and I have talked about that statement and I have been thinking about how Bill’s life, and all of our lives are like a puzzle.

On Monday morning as I was driving the school bus, I came to a certain spot on the road where I could see the eastern sky. The sky was bright red with clouds and oh! what a beautiful sight to behold. I thought again about the statement I had made to Donnie.

Here, before my eyes, was a picture that would have made a beautiful jigsaw puzzle to put together. Again, I thought about Bill’s life and how our lives can relate to a puzzle.

It begins when God, in His wisdom, pours out the pieces of our lives and begins to put them into place. For William S. Pirtle, it begin on May 29,1930. Bill spent his early childhood years in south-east Missouri. There he developed his love for fishing, hunting, and the St. Louis Cardinals. Little did Bill know that God was one by one placing the pieces of his life’s puzzle into place.

The difference between God and us is the fact that God already knows where each piece goes. He begins putting our childhood pieces into place. Childhood is like putting the outer edges together, it goes together rather easily. Then the real work begins. But piece by piece, the Lord begins to shape our lives. Each piece makes up part of our lives. No two pieces are alike. The puzzle isn’t complete until the last piece is in place.

Then something happens as we come to the age of accountability. Human nature begins to think that it might not need God’s help to put this puzzle together. God, in His love, steps back to watch us try to work each piece into place. As we struggle to fit each piece into place we realize that it is not as easy as it looks. For you see, we do not know where each piece goes, but God does.

Here are some parts of Bill’s life that God used piece-by-piece for His glory to fulfill His purpose.

There was one piece in Bill’s life at the age of nine that was a call to preach the gospel. Bill did not think that piece fit into his puzzle so he laid the piece aside. He went on trying to put the puzzle together without it. He did not realize at that time that each piece had to be in place or the puzzle would never be completed.

During his high school years, he and a group of friends had a country-and-western band. God used this time to put more of the puzzle together. For God would later use this talent of playing and singing for His glory.

After his high school graduation he got a job working at a shoe factory. While working there he had a near fatal incident of being shut in a steam room. Could it be that this to was a part of the puzzle? Yes, I think it was.

A few weeks later another piece was put in place. He had been invited to a revival meeting at the Church of the Nazarene in Esther, Missouri. There he asked God to forgive him his sins and he invited Jesus to fill his life. It was then that he remembered God had called Him to preach some nine years earlier. That night, at the age of nineteen, he picked up the piece of puzzle he had laid down at the age of nine and accepted the call to preach the gospel. At that time Bill realized he did need God’s help to put his life puzzle together.

In the fall of 1950 Bill packed up and went to Olivet Nazarene Collage in Kankakee, Illinois to study for the ministry.

In 1951 another part of Bill’s life puzzle came into place. He married his first wife, Maxine.

In the spring of 1954 he finished his studies and took his first church at Ricker Memorial Church of the Nazarene in Missouri.

Other little parts of the puzzle began to come along called children, and oh, what a joy they were! There are lots of stories that could be told but it would take far too long. Then later came grandchildren and they too were a part of Bill’s life puzzle. They were a great joy to him. He loved his family very much.

During his 40 years of preaching he served churches in Colorado, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, Texas and Oklahoma. There were lots of puzzle pieces in those years.

It was while pastoring in Illinois that God, in His wisdom, took Bill’s wife and the mother of his four children to heaven. I am sure that Bill didn’t think that this piece of puzzle should fit into his life but he accepted God’s will even in the time of sorrow.

Another piece was fit into place when in 1980 he met Donnie. They fell in love and they were married in 1981 and had a good life together until God called him home.

The last two churches he and Donnie served as pastors were with the United Methodist churches in Eakly and Seiling, Oklahoma. Due to failing health, he retired in 1992 from active pastorate. He then begin to hold revival meetings. He preached and sang for the glory of God and told about God’s love and forgiveness everywhere he went.

The last few years of Bill’s life were spent in pain and suffering, going from doctor to doctor, trying to find help and finding very little. I am sure many times Bill would ask the Lord why he was suffering but realizing all the time that he was in God’s hands. Even in this time of his life God was putting the pieces of the puzzle into place.

The last piece was put in place on January 27 , 2008 by the all-knowing and all-loving God. Bill’s work on earth is done. He is no longer suffering with pain.

He never stopped praising God. He witnessed to the doctors and nurses with his last breaths.

Bill left a testimony written in July 1997. It reads like this: "To my beloved family, upon the news of my passing, rest assured that all is 'well with my soul.' Jesus saves, sanctifies and He is Lord and Master of my life and my coming King!"

No comments: