It was the first Sunday of February and Mark was preaching at the Egypt congregation. Carissa and I attended at Greensboro Road and I decided to do my “walking by” greetings to people who were already in their seat. Well, I got to Mr. Hillard Holcomb and he stood up and put his arms out.
Guess what? I didn’t hesitate to step into his arms and give him a hug. It was like second nature. Later that day, Mark and I were sitting at the kitchen table visiting and I told him that I hugged Mr. Hillard and for some reason, I started crying. I felt guilty. I couldn’t help but think how terrible I would feel if he got sick. Even though I am not sick – the thought was there – that I could be.
Mark reminded me that our brethren need one another, and that Mr. Hillard needed that hug. He needed that comfort. Then I was like, you’re right, Mr. Hillard needed that hug.
As I study out and look at Bible verses, these three hit me hard. These verses remind me that we should put our brethren first. Mr. Hillard put his arms out and I hugged him. Despite COVID. Despite everything else.
1 John 3:16: Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
John 15:13: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
1 John 4:21: And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
That very next day, which was Monday, February 8, 2021, our Preacher sent out a text that Mr. Hillard suffered a stroke Sunday night as he arrived home from Sunday evening worship service.
I received word that Mr. Hillard Holcomb passed away February 17, 2021 in his sleep. When we hugged a few short ten days earlier, I had no idea it would be my last earthly hug from Mr. Hillard.
Mr. Hillard was like a grandfather to my girls. He never failed to tell us how much he cared about us. He also never failed to show it. He always said being in worship with his brethren was his favorite place to be – his happy place.
When I think of Mr. Hillard, I think of what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Be ye followers of me, even as I am also of Christ.”
Mr. Hillard was such a great example. He was an inspiration and anyone who tries to imitate him, will be imitating someone who loved the church and Christ above all. Someone worthy of imitating. Because, in my opinion, he tried his best to imitate Christ.
When I think about that hug, I realize that it wasn’t Mr. Hillard who needed that hug. It was me.
Sunday, February 7, 2021 is a day that will forever be burned in my memory as the day I got the hug I didn’t know I desperately needed.
In Christian Love, Leah Brewer