My uncle passed away on July 4th of this year. He was ninety-nine years old. He spoke of heaven as the next thing on his bucket list the last few years.
Yesterday, at his funeral, I heard that he figured his friends all thought he must not have made it do heaven because he hadn’t shown up yet. He had outlived them all.
I could fill a few pages with my own stories of Uncle Norman but, instead, I’ll write a little bit about one of the the things he taught me.
I had the privilege of working with him at a church for a while. It was a hopeless kind of church and I was there working with another pastor before he arrived.
I had thought I could make a difference there and things had not gone the way I had envisioned them. I was disappointed and beat down when Uncle Norman stepped in to pastor.
I didn’t really like Uncle Norman’s vision for the church. He had no grandiose plans to turn that church into anything special, no big crowds, no status in the community, no big changes. He just stepped in and started loving those people.
I guess I had gone there in hopes of changing everyone, making that church as respected as the Baptists down the street.
I clearly was imposing my vision of what a church ought to be on them and totally disregarding what God wanted them to be.
I really don’t talk much about my time there in that church. I have always felt like a failure there.
But sitting in that funeral yesterday, honoring a man that had clearly learned that his primary purpose in over six decades as a pastor was to love people, I saw that I am a blessed man indeed. I have been blessed to have such an example in my life that I know what humility and living out the Great Commission looks like.
A lot of people have never seen a man like my uncle. They’ve never had someone like that in their lives. I’m blessed to have been embraced by him and taught valuable lessons that I was able to see lived out with my own eyes.
Goodbye, Uncle Norman. You did life right.
1 Timothy 6:13 And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.