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William Watson Starnes

By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs

religion, articles, christianity

He lived to within five minutes of a full 96 years, and then William Watson Starnes passed from this life in peace on February 12, 1993. He and his wife, Pauline, who preceded him in death, moved to the southeast comer of Oklahoma while they were young. There they raised a family, made a living, and preached the word. He died and was buried in Idabel, Oklahoma, where he had many friends.

Brother Starnes was a preacher. That was his first love. He did it well. He helped establish several congregations, baptized untold thousands, married the young, and buried the dead. He worked faithfully in business that he might preach the gospel. He could have been anything-soldier, politician, man of letters, man of science-and in any field he would have been a leader. He was gifted with a swift and clear-cutting intellect. Watson Starnes could say with Paul, "What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel without charge, so as not to use to the full my right in the gospel."

The word of God burned like a fire in his bones, and he could not forebear to teach the truth that makes men free. We can almost hear him say, "For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of, for necessity is laid upon me; for woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel."

His talents were controlled for one purpose. He struggled heroically that he might be a productive preacher. He made himself a scholar.

His life was hid with Christ in God. He always had a twinkle in his eyes and the faint curl of a smile on his lips, and there radiated from him a gentle beauty born of sterling character. He had his frailties and faults, of course. He was made of clay. Still, in the passing of the years he became more and more like the Lord he loved and served and in whose image his spirit was made.

All earthly things must pass. "It is appointed unto man once to die." "The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, and all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, awaits alike the inevitable hour; The paths of glory lead but to the grave." Watson Starnes kept his rendezvous with death, as we all must, and now is in that land of fadeless day.

God rewards those who diligently seek after him. That is the sure promise of faith. Just as when Lazarus died he "was carried away by the angels into Abraham's bosom," so did a band of angels come to carry William Watson Starnes home. His transport was a sweet chariot. He will soon be forgotten by the careless of earth, but we rejoice that his name is in the Lamb's Book of Life.

I heard the voice from heaven saying, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them (Rev. 14:13).
And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works (Rev. 20:12).
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire; and them that come off victorious from the beast, and from his image, and from the number of his name, standing by the sea of glass, having harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, 0 Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are thy ways, thou King of the ages. Who shall not fear, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all the nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy righteous acts have been made manifest (Rev. 15:24).
Asleep in Jesus! 0 how sweet
To be for such a slumber meet!
With holy confidence to sing,
That death hath lost its venomed sting.
Good night, sweet prince. May we so live that one grand day a glad reunion on an eternal shore will restore our broken fellowship, and we can together with the "angels with the white-robed throng, join in the great redemption song."

Published April 1993