A friend of mine, Robert Damesworth, lost his life this past week. It has been a hard loss for his family and for many others who knew him. He was a tough man, a rugged individual who knew what he wanted out of life and pursued it relentlessly. And while pursuing his dreams, he always looked out for the best interests of his family, friends, and others in his community.
I remember driving down the country road in our little town of Leonard, Texas and getting behind him. He was never in a hurry. He was just in a hurry when he wanted to get something done for his family to ensure they had what they needed and wanted. But he taught all of his sons to work hard for what they have as he worked hard for all that he was able to accomplish. He was just that type of person. His hands showed his hard work and that determined look in his eyes showed that he was willing to do whatever it takes to make life happen.
I remember a time that I was pastoring the First Baptist Church of Leonard and I shared a vision to start the First Christian Academy of Leonard. People in town were against the idea. I remember a deacon coming to me after the independent school district superintendent asked him to speak to me about starting a school saying that it would hurt the district. I thought to myself that it probably wouldn’t. Robert came to see me personally about the academy. He was against the idea. He told me upfront that he was against it and did not see the need for it. We discussed it and we agreed to disagree. That was one thing that you could do with Robert and it didn’t change his view of you or his caring for you or even his love for you.
When the church voted to start the school, he made it known that he was against it and voted against the idea. Right after that business meeting, I walked right up to him and asked him to prayerfully consider being a part of the Executive Committee for the academy. He said, “Preacher, did you not see that I voted against it? We’ve agreed to disagree.” I said, “Yes, but the church voted for it and I know that you’ll support it now, so don’t say ‘no’ to me right now, just pray about being a part of the Committee.” A week later, Robert came to me at church and said, “Preacher, I know we don’t agree with the school, but God wants me to be a part of the Executive Committee.” I retorted, “I know He does!” With his sheepish grin, he nodded and shook my hand.
Later, after the academy was started, Robert ended up being one of the main supporters of it. He gave sacrificially to the academy, his grandchildren were part of the academy, and he wanted to see it succeed. He spoke about it to others around town and really built it up to those who were willing to listen to him. And believe me, when Robert spoke, you listened–everyone would. He was that type of person that wherever he was and with whomever he was with others wanted to be a part of his conversations and know him and hear him.
This evening, at the family visitation for Robert, I saw his three sons, Bubba, Bo, and Travis. I spoke with his wife, Peggy. Then I went up to the casket to see my friend, Robert Damesworth. Floods of memories came over me. I remember he and Ms. Peggy taking my wife and me to McKinney and around the country where he grew up. I met his aunt that he lived with for a while when he was growing up. He showed where he would ride his horse and told us of how he would camp out at night if he didn’t make it back by the late evening. I remember the way that he would hug my wife and let her know that he loved her and put up with me! Of course, he always had that smile of his and would chuckle. I remember him telling me about some chickens that Ms. Peggy ordered by mail and how the coyotes at just about every one of them–they were Ms. Peggy’s chickens, just like the llamas were Ms. Peggy’s!
But you could tell that he would do anything for his wife. To Robert, Ms. Peggy was everything for him to have joy in this life. He loved her and it showed. If there was an example of how a long-term marriage should be, Robert and Peggy are that great example. You could see it in their eyes–the love they shared together. He supported her and she supported him; they were partners in everything and everyone could see it. Their three sons had wonderful examples of what parents should be and how to be partners with their wives. Today, they exhibit much of the same characteristics of love for their spouses and children as they saw with their parents. Amazing!
I know that many other words could be said about my friend, Robert. I know that many people who I saw at the visitation time this evening have similar feelings about him. He was a good man. He loved life, his wife, his sons, his grandchildren, his church, and his community. He truly was a friend to many, many people. The line at the funeral home was out the doors and down the street. He wasn’t just well-known, he was well-liked, well-respected, and well-loved.
But there’s one more thing I want to tell you about my friend, Robert. He loved Jesus Christ and sought to love him all the more. He was willing to take a stand for Jesus Christ and tell others about Him and His love for them. He would pray for people. He wasn’t just someone who would say that he would pray for someone, he actually prayed for them if he said it. He was a man of his word, and his word was his bond. When he told me about when he trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I knew then that he truly did. He wouldn’t say something that wasn’t true about himself. He was confident enough to know and to say that he knew Jesus Christ. I could count on his words as solid truth.
I think that today, if Robert could, he would be telling you and me about all that he is seeing today in heaven. But most of all, I think he would be telling you and me about seeing Jesus Christ face-to-face. He would be telling you and me that it’s all true! That Jesus Christ really saves and that he is willing to save you today–at this very moment if only you’d believe Him like he did so many years ago. He would be telling you that the forgiveness of sins is a reality as much as heaven is a reality as much as hell is a reality. And none of us has to go to hell if only we’d believe in Jesus Christ. Robert would then say to us, Jesus Christ truly is only way, the only truth, and the only life, and there is no other way to get to heaven except through Him (cf. John 14:6). Then, finally, I think that my friend, Robert, would urge each of us to trust Jesus Christ–to believe that He died according to the Scriptures, was buried, and was raised again according to the Scriptures (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4), and if anyone believes in Him and calls out to Him, that he or she would be saved!
A friend of mine…Robert Damesworth…I owe much to him and to his family for the years of encouragement, belief, and good times we have had together. A friend of mine…Robert Damesworth…I thank God that I knew him and that I get to see him again one day in heaven.