15 more years

  

     A friend of mine for over 20 yrs., recently passed away. His name is Norris Nelson. Norris loved God’s word, especially the book of Isaiah. His favorite verse comes from Isa. 41:10. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

     Norris learned early on, that the only way to handle the difficulties of life is to acknowledge and depend on his ever present God. He also understood that becoming dismayed or discouraged is best handled through an ongoing relationship with the One True God, who can handle anything and do everything.  When Norris grew weak, as we all do, when he didn’t know where to turn or what to do, he took hold of God’s hand and was strengthened, he was helped up, by an Almighty God who always shows up. This was a lifelong process.

     So let me tell you how Norris Nelson lived. In Norris’ bible, Isaiah 38 had some interesting comments made by him. This is the story of King Hezekiah “who became ill to the point of death”. The prophet Isaiah showed up to deliver this message from the Lord: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover. Not the kind of news anyone wants to hear.

     Hezekiah was an extraordinary man of faith, since the first thing he does is turn to the Lord in prayer. There’s a simply lesson here. When we face life’s struggles make sure that prayer is our first response not our last resort. This was Hezekiah prayer. Remember, O Lord, how I walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes. The Lord promptly responded by telling Isaiah to inform Hezekiah that he would be given 15 more years of life. In the margin of his bible, Norris wrote right near this passage the year, 2001. Then Norris wrote his age at the time which was 76. Below that number he wrote 15, then a line and when you add 76 + 15= 91. Norris passed away last week at the age of 91. Can I say for sure that Norris had an agreement with the Lord for another 15 years? I don’t know. But it wouldn’t surprise me. I am certain that Norris is with his Lord in heaven right now!

     Unfortunately, in our culture today, straight talk about heaven and hell is frowned upon. It’s just too intrusive, even rude. Well, I can’t think of anything more intrusive and rude than death. Furthermore, our society is frantic about PC, you know political correctness. Many believe our language should be accepting and inclusive. We should focus on what we have in common, instead of highlighting our differences. Personally I’m not so worried about being politically correct. I am more concerned about being BC, biblically correct. The fact remains that when we look closely at our differences, therein lies the truth. The truth is not concept or a belief system, The Truth is a person. Since Jesus Himself said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  That’s exactly what Christ said. Then in that very next sentence Jesus also said this, No one can come to the Father except through me.

     Whoops, that’s not very politically correct now is it? Sounds like we just slammed the door on what some people believe. In fact, some would say that’s pretty narrow minded. Jesus would agree with that, since Christ also said in Matt 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Wow, a narrow road and a small gate doesn’t sound very promising, until we read what Christ says in John 10:9 Jesus says; I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.

     Norris walked that narrow path his entire life, because he came to the realization that no one can save themselves. Norris realized that it’s not about rules or rituals, it’s about relationship with the One True God, through his Son Jesus Christ. Norris knew that he needed Savior, which enabled him, when the time came, to walk through that narrow gate. For that reason alone, Norris is with his Savior and Lord even now.

     So where will you be when your life is over?  If you Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, asking Him to be Your Savior and Lord, you will know where you will be, you will be saved. This is a decision each of us needs to make, sooner rather than later. Since none of us knows for sure, if we have 15 more years or for that matter, even 15 more minutes.

     Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." That name is Jesus Christ. If Norris was here right now he would look you in the eye and ask you, “Who is Jesus Christ to you?” Knowing about Jesus isn’t enough. Asking Jesus to be your Lord and Savior is the beginning of a lifetime of walking in faith with the One True God. A lifetime that ends with the promise of eternal life. Remember, God always keeps His promises. Of course, this is something Norris already knows.  Rest in the splendor of heaven, my friend.

(Excepts taken from the message I preached at Norris Nelson’ funeral- 4/11/16)