Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:20-21: But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
My father-in-law, Rawdon Akins, would have been 80 years old today, April 10, 2011. This devotion is in memory of a wonderful man who was not ashamed to tell everyone about his relationship with God.
Rawdon Akins was married to Carolyn Akins for almost 48 years. They had five daughters and helped raise 12 grandchildren. Rawdon was a family man and his love for his family will always be remembered. He loved his 5 daughters and he was so proud of each of them; Sharon, Donna, Carla, Lynn, and Paula. One of their most precious memories was that every day when he came home from work – the first thing he would do is kiss each girl on the forehead and say, “Hey Gal”. I have been able to witness first hand the deep love, devotion, and respect that each of his children had for their father. He was a loving and caring father and he wasn’t afraid to tell his children that he loved them. Anyone who knew Rawdon knew how much he loved his daughters.
He loved his wife Carolyn, who he called “sugar.” In many conversations with Rawdon, he told me how much he depended on Carolyn and how much he appreciated the way she looked out for him and took care of him. Carolyn stood beside him through the good times and the difficult times – especially when his health was failing him. In the final two weeks while Rawdon was in the hospital, she rarely left his side.
Rawdon also loved very dearly, his grandchildren, and his grandchildren loved him. There was just something about Grandpa’s lap that all the Akins grandbabies loved. Looking through photo albums we are constantly reminded of this as we see countless photos of all the grandchildren sitting in grandpa’s lap. Rawdon would always volunteer to rock the grandkids to sleep – and part of that was because – he could take that opportunity to sneak in a good nap himself. The grandchildren were drawn to him and they found safety, comfort and love sitting in grandpa’s lap.
I never sat down at a meal with Rawdon where a prayer was not said. Many of us, we get busy; we sometimes forget to pray at every meal – not Rawdon. He knew that God was his provider and he wasn’t going to eat his meal until he thanked God for what he had. What a wonderful legacy he passed on to his family.
In his younger days at Register High School, Rawdon was quite an athlete who played many sports. In looking through his 1950 senior yearbook, I read where the basketball team had won its tenth game of the season. There was a footnote added that said – “this was also the game in which Rawdon Akins lost his tooth.”
One of Rawdon’s greatest joys in life was bowling. He was a member of a bowling league for almost 40 years until he was forced to quit because of health problems. To his bowling buddies he was known as Rowdy. He won many trophies over the years and went to several state tournaments.
Rawdon also learned to play golf later on in his life. Brad, his grandson, remembers Rawdon taking him to the golf course for the first time. Brad said that on the first swing he took, the golf club flew out of his hands and landed several yards away. Brad said that most of the balls he hit were in the woods or in the water, but his grandfather was always patient with him, he would just laugh.
Mark, his son-in-law was remembering the many rounds of golf that he and Rawdon played. Mark said that there was a certain hole at Southern Links that challenged Rawdon every time he played there. There was a large water hazard that you had to deal with before you reached the green. Mark said that most times Rawdon would either, lay up short, hit the ball in the water, or hit the ball way over the green.
But one day, Rawdon hit a shot that bounced off a large rock- and a tree limb- and maybe something else – and somehow – the ball landed on the green. Mark said that it was the ugliest shot that you would ever see, but the ball was on the green. Rawdon got so excited that Mark said he thinks that it still took him about four putts before he got the ball in the hole. But that shot was all that Rawdon talked about for a long time.
One of my favorite stories about Rawdon was when he was a teenager and had been running in a state track meet in high school. It was supposed to be an overnight trip and his mother looked out late that evening and saw him walking up the road. Rawdon had been eliminated early from the competition. When he got to the house, his mother asked him what he was doing back home so early. Rawdon replied that he had been illuminated. Whenever she would tell this story she would laugh and say, “We thought – well that’s ok – because at least we knew that they could see him.”
Remembering the words of the Apostle Paul at the beginning of the devotion, I know that Rawdon Akins is a citizen of heaven. His life was a powerful witness of a wonderful Christian man who loved and acknowledged God as his creator, redeemer, and sustainer. I believe that when Rawdon arrived in heaven, he was told: you have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith. Well done my good and faithful servant. Amen.