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GOD & TEXAS: The assassination of Robert Love

As a pastor, I have been at the bedside of parishioners as they stepped out of this life into Eternity. Some were able to say a few words just before passing, and those words remain cherished by the family today.

It is said that Sam Houston, onetime president of the Republic of Texas, asked for an American flag to admire as he passed away, and his last words were “Texas…. Margaret….. Texas.” It was his dear wife Margaret who led him into a relationship with Christ in his latter years.

Col. William B. Travis was the commander of the troops in the Alamo. Just what Travis said moments before he died is not known. But the last public words he wrote in his final letter were stunning. Travis wrote, “I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country – Victory or Death!”

Native Texan Bill Longley was a gunfighter, thief, and convicted murderer. In his short 27 years, he left behind a trail of sorrow and carnage. His last words before being hanged in 1878 were not surprising. From the gallows, Longley looked over the bloodthirsty crowd and said, “I see a good many enemies around, and mighty few friends.”

And then there was Col. Robert Marshall Love. Born in Franklin, Texas, in 1847, Love enlisted in the Sixth Texas Cavalry to fight in the Civil War. After the war, he returned to farming and married Lucy Morgan, with whom he shared 10 children. Col. Love had a deep and public commitment to Christ, and he served as a leader in the Cumberland Presbyterian church. Additionally, Love not only built a church on his own farm, he devoted himself to the construction of other church buildings all around the state.

Love began his successful political career as deputy, and then sheriff of Limestone County. After serving in several other political offices, Love was elected as the Texas State Comptroller in 1901. While sitting at his desk on June 30, 1903, Love’s life was ended by an assassin's bullet. His last words are remembered to this day.

W. G. Hill, a former employee of the department, entered Love’s office, and shot him in the heart. While others subdued Hill, a visiting minister, Rev. M. F. Cowden of Bonham, rushed to Love’s side. With his last breath Love said, “I am shot but it is well with me.” Love assured the pastor that his own soul was safe with Jesus. Love then said, “I have no idea why he shot me. May the Lord bless him and forgive him.”

The last words of Col. Love remind us of the merciful words of Christ as He was dying on the Cross for our sins. Jesus looked at the assembled gawkers and said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV). May we all show this grace to others.

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