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Memorial to James L. Reavis

July 17, 1915 - November 27, 2009

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Rick Warren likely got some of his material for his book, the “Purpose Driven Life” from James. Not because James was born in Warren County, but because James, like all of us are put on this earth for a purpose, and not until that purpose is complete will we leave this earth.

There are many things James will be remembered for, too many to cover today. Each one of us has special memories that we will carry with us for a lifetime.

At the top of the list of purposes God had for James was his obedience in carrying out God’s will. James was the oldest member of Flat Rock United Methodist Church. Although he showed his devotion to the church outwardly, like singing in the choir, you know he had a relationship with the Lord by the way he lived his life. For example:

The nurse at the nursing home said she would go into his room at night, and he would be reading his Bible.

When told by a Jewish doctor at Rex Hospital In July 2009 that he was going to be under Hospice Care, he responded by telling her of his dream where he was at his own funeral, and everything was alright. He then looked her in the eyes and told her, “You know, you can’t love me if you don’t love Jesus.”

Back in February of 2009, when James went to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill with a blood clot in his leg, some thought that was the end. However, the purpose for which the Lord had put him here was not complete.

Everyone here today has a purpose for being on this earth, and once your purpose has been completed, and not until then, you will be called home. James knew that, not everyone knows the Lord, and not all will be called to the same home that he was going to one day.

When James, at the age of 93 left his home in Henderson in February 2009, he went on a nine-month missionary trip. That trip took him to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, and then to Raleigh, where he ministered and witnessed at Rex Hospital, at Blue Ridge Nursing Home, Spring Arbor Assistant Living, and Universal Nursing Home. While we were fortunate to have James at Flat Rock for 45 years, from 1953 to 2008, part of the Lord’s purpose for James was for him to touch the lives of people in Orange and Wake counties.

He took three short missionary trips back to Henderson. The July visit was to Flat Rock Church where his family and friends honored him on his 94th birthday. Many people got up and said some good things about James on that day. Like was said by one of his sons, “It’s good to be saying good things about James where he is sitting here today, instead of after it is too late, and he is lying here.” Well, James’ body is lying here today, just like all of us will one day. In James’ case, only his body is lying here. His spirit is in Heaven. As the scripture says, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”

Twice, James came back to Vance County for day trips, where he visited Rose Gin Law & Garden Center, where nearly everyone in Henderson went, not to just buy seeds for their garden, but to be uplifted by James’ wit and charm. He came back to Rose Gin, not only to help boost there sales (which some say had suffered because James was not there), but because he longed for the friends and people that he was use to entertaining everyday. On one of the trips, he went to Skipper’s BBQ, where many of his church members came and had their final lunch with James. The Lord knew he needed to say some final good-byes before he went home to see his maker.

James had his last Thanksgiving Dinner at his son’s house in Raleigh. What did he do? There were four children there where he entertained them with card tricks, jokes, and his “think of a number” trick. He also sang his familiar song, which he only sang to pretty women, “You are my sunshine.”

James is an example of: “You can tell a lot about a person by how they treat old people and children.” Like the book of James in the Bible teaches, he did not “show favoritism.” He did not believe in treating people differently, based upon what he could benefit from them.

During the holidays, he would remind his children of two sayings that had been handed down in the Reavis Family over the generations, and was always a part of the Christmas Dinner message. “There are many a happy child today, and many a sad-one, meaning we need to be thankful for what we have.” The second saying was: “There are many people here this Christmas that will not be here next Christmas.” Like what the book of James in the Bible says, “Life is a vapor.” James reminds us to cherish the times we have with our loved ones, for we do not want to have regrets after it is too late. This saying also applies to each one of us, as tomorrow is not promised to anyone.

The second purpose for which James had been placed on earth, had also been accomplished. He was placed here to be a loving and faithful husband. He was married to his wife Fay for nearly 50 years, before she went ahead to Heaven in 1990. James was known for how he treated Fay and loved her unconditionally.

For the last 15 Christmas’, James has spent them without his soul mate, Fay. But this Christmas, he will once again spend Christmas with her. What a joyous reunion that must have been when James and Fay were once again reunited in the presence of the Lord. James reminds us that, for those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, we can be comforted by knowing that one day, we will once again see them. It must be a terrible thing for non-Christians to go through life without having this Hope that God so freely offers to everyone, if only they will drop their pride, and ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.

The third purpose for which James had been place on earth, had also been accomplished. He was a father that lived the principles taught to him by the Bible. He reared three sons, Jimmy, Billy, and David. The Bible tells us to honor thy Father and Mother, and thy days will be long upon the face of the earth. Apparently, James honored his parents to have lived for 94 years.

Doctors told the sons in July 2009 that James would be dead within the week, and called in Hospice. While James was prepared at that time to go on to Heaven, God must have known that the sons needed some more time to be able to spend with their dad and to serve him. It’s by God’s grace that He gave the sons and other family members four more months to spend some quality time with him. Not everyone is given this extra grace.

Many of us will travel up and down Satterwhite Point Road, for how many years, we do not know. But each time we do, we will pass by the Reavis Homeplace, sitting up on the hill with the rock steps. The home was built in 1789 by James’ great-great grandfather Samuel Reavis, who was married to Patsy Harris (whose family lived down the Mill Road behind the church). James’s great grand-parents, Lewis Reavis and Mary Coghill are buried in the family cemetery beside the house. If you look at the stain glass windows in Flat Rock Church, you will see the names this Reavis Family, whose were some of the charter members.

So every time we pass the Reavis Homeplace, we will be reminded of that fine gentleman named James Reavis and his loving wife Fay, who once lived in that house. We will also see the round rock steps that are over 220 years old. The rock steps will remind us of the Rock that their faith was based on, the true Rock, Jesus Christ, who died on a cross 2000 years ago, so that those who beleive in him may have everlasting life.

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