On June 27, 2022, Heaven welcomed another earth traveler Home. After a long assignment of 99 years, Jim Criswell was promoted to Heaven.
I feel sure The Lord welcomed him as a good and faithful servant.
We met Jim through The Trinity Cokesbury Sunday School class at Centenary United Methodist Church. The class was a group of living saints, who were all well over 80 years old.
Jim was a leader and a true shepherd. Trying to herd the class members together for a simple potluck was no small task. Everyone had their own ideas of when to stop talking and begin serious eating!
However, when they heard Jim’s soft voice, praying a blessing, all stopped and turned their eyes on Jesus. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus was not just their theme song. It was their way of life.
Jim was a model of gentleness and kindness. He made everyone welcome, including adopting us “youngsters”, who barely squeaked in, being in our early 60s.
He talked to everyone, remembering details of their life and asking about them. He always inquired about our daughter, Jennifer, by name, even though he had never met her.
He was wise, both in the things of the world, and also in the things of The Spirit. He actively participated in every class, asking questions and adding comments, that opened up whole new worlds of thought. I wish I had recorded every one, because having a Jim Criswell commentary would have been a treasure.
He loved his family. Even when he was a bit unsteady, he gave it his all to steady his wife, Barbara. They held hands and looked at each other with the same sparks as young teenagers.
They talked of their daughter often, with pride and joy. It was obvious they carried LeeAnn in their hearts, wherever they went. I am sure that has not changed.
Jim graciously made various transitions in life, as he aged. One by one, the precious members of The Trinity Cokesbury class have been promoted to Heaven. Jim was one of the longest serving his tour of duty on earth.
I was the song leader for class. As much as they valued their long held traditions, they were open to new ideas that more fully expressed their hearts’ desires.
At the end of every potluck, we all held hands and sang the hymn, Bless Be The Tie That Binds. Somehow the last verse just did not fit them. The original writer wrote
“When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.”
I changed it to
“When we asunder part,
We surely will feel no pain;
For we shall still be joined in heart,
And know we will meet again!”
And Jim said with delight, “Amen!”
One Sunday I took a picture of Jim teaching his “young” student, Jay. It is one of my favorites. The sun coming through the windows of the chapel revealed The True Light of The World!
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of Peace will be with you!