Ten years ago, when I was serving as pastor of First Baptist Church in Booneville, our observance of the Fourth of July was saddened that year by the death of James White.
James, his son Adam, and some other friends were riding their motorcycles in Tennessee on the morning of July 4, 2010, when a tragic accident occurred. A vehicle that they were meeting veered into their lane of traffic. The vehicle struck James’ motorcycle, and he was killed instantly.
James’ death left all of us in shock. James and Linda and their daughter Jennifer and her family had all been members of our church for several years, and we had grown to love the entire family. James was a kind and caring man who served on several committees in our church where he put his faith into practice.
In addition to being someone on whom we depended in our church, James was also someone on whom we depended when it came to service our cars and trucks. James owned and operated White’s Tires where he sold tires and serviced automobiles. When you went to see James about a problem, he usually had a low price or would not charge you at all for his service. I say “usually.”
Bro. Jack Whitley, an old family friend, assisted me with James’s funeral service. In the service, Jack told about often going by to see James at his store with some problem with his tires. He would pull in and ask James to fix a tire that was leaking air. When the repair had been done, Jack would ask, “How much do I owe you, James?” James would respond, “You don’t owe me anything. I’ll catch you next time.” The same was true of many minor jobs. James would say, “There’s no charge on that. I’ll catch you next time.”
After several visits like this, Jack went by one day to inquire about buying a new set of tires for his truck. He told James what he wanted and asked how much they would cost. James took a few minutes to work up an estimate, and then told Jack, “That will be $800.” Jack gasped and said, “Eight hundred dollars? What about ‘catch you next time’?” James smiled and said, “This is next time!”
Next time – it has a way of coming for all of us. We may get the impression that there is no price to be paid for sin. We can simply wait and pay it next time. Don’t be misled. Next time always comes. It is the time when we receive the bill and must pay the cost.
I still think of James and miss him. He taught us a lot of important things about life. One thing that he taught us is that “next time” arrives sooner or later for all of us.