Posted by: robertartemenko | February 10, 2010

Bill Winder’s HugeGOD

On July 3, 1990, my 40-year-old friend Bill Winder journaled: “Matthew 5:4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.’ Mourning for the depravity of my own spirit, how far I am from God, and mourning over the estate of man and his world, being so far from God. Personally, such personal reflection, being driven to my knees is necessary to get away from myself and get closer to God, and feeling in the depth of my spirit, the hurt of the world and feel as badly as God does about the state of people and their distance from him and their living in futility away from God. His heart is breaking for them and yearning for them to be close.”

The next day after a morning run, swimming with his three kids at the Lake Forest, IL public pool, he died of a heart attack. His wife Jean, sons Jordan and Jonathan, daughter Jenille had earlier walked through that chain link gate a happy Independence Day family, then left shattered, kids without a dad and Jean widowed.

Time has healed much, though not all. Remarriage, an engagement, new beauty, achievements, new joys in life and in the Lord have blessed them all.

This brutally brief history ignores so many of the waves of life events propagated since this tragedy, not to mention all that came before.

Bill wrote that day before his death without foreknowledge of things to come. But he, like others we may have known or read about, gave us a glimpse deep into his heart. Such insights will become even more common in our hyper-documented culture. This Tweeted, e-mailed, Facebooked, Fox’ed, CNN’ed world in which we live, continues to offer not only mega-drivel, but also occasional dipsticks into the soul.

This “old world” journal showed how HugeGOD had become to Bill. It revealed how Bill’s heart was breaking and merging with God’s … how Bill yearned to “feel as badly as God does about the state of people.”

Consider also 17-year-old Cassie Bernall, who died April 20, 1999 at Columbine High in Littleton, CO. Her brother found this in her journal on April 19: “Now I have given up on everything else I have found it to be the only way to know Christ and to experience His mighty power that brought Him back to life again, and to find out what it means to suffer and to die with Him. So, whatever it takes I will be one who lives in the fresh newness of those who are alive from the dead.” Cassie revealed her heart … she had “given up on everything else” but knowing Christ, she had found “what it means to suffer and to die with Him,” and became one of  “those who are alive,”  to God’s worldview and freed “from the dead (ness)” of this world’s priorities and approach.

What about 39-year-old David Bloom, who died April 6, 2003. An ex-NBC White House correspondent and co-anchor of NBC Weekend Today, he travelled as an imbedded reporter with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq. The day before he died of a pulmonary embolism, he sent this last e-mail to his wife Melanie. He wrote: “You can’t begin to fathom – cannot begin to even glimpse the enormity – of changes I have and am continuing to undergo. God takes you to the depths of your being – until you are at rock bottom – and then, if you turn to Him with utter and blind faith, and resolve in your mind and heart to walk only with Him and toward Him, picks you up by the bootstraps and leads you home. I hope and pray that all my guys get out of this in one piece. But I tell you Mel, I am at peace. Deeply saddened by the glimpses of death and destruction I have seen, but at peace with God, and with you. I know only that my whole way of life has turned upside down – and here I am, supposedly at the top of professional success, and I could frankly care less. Yes I’m proud of the good job we’ve all been doing, but – in the scheme of things – it matters little compared to my relationship with you, the girls, and Jesus. There is something far beyond my level of human understanding or comprehension going on here, some forging of metal through fire.” David revealed his heart, somehow at peace with God far beyond his understanding, rocked to the depths of his soul, his life turned upside down, yet having clarity about what and who was of the greatest importance.

46-year-old STS-107 Columbia Commander Rick Husband and six crew members died on February 1, 2003 as they re-entered earth’s atmosphere at the close of a 10 day mission. In a pre-recorded videotape before he went into space he said: “If I ended up at the end of my life having been an astronaut, but having sacrificed my family along the way or living in a way that did not glorify God, then I would look back on it with great regret and having become an astronaut would not really have mattered all that much … And I finally came to realize that what really meant most to me was to try to live my life the way God wanted me to and to try and be a good husband to Evelyn and to be a good father to my children.” Before his last launch, Rick shared his heart and the treasure he sought.

The speakers shared these “last words” with no sense of impending doom … just honest expressions of heartfelt priorities. God moved deeply within them, mysteriously allowing each to experience aspects of His wisdom, suffering and love. Certainly not all life transitions involve such profound documentation, but I believe they are signposts for those who are aware, and who care and know that there is a HugeGOD very active in their midst.

It was said that Moses had to stare a while to decide if the burning bush (Exodus 3:2) was being consumed. With the pace of our society, many bushes could be burning miraculously around us without our notice. Have you closely examined the fires, or heard the crackling heat, of bushes you’ve passed lately?


  1. well said. 🙂

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