One thing that simply cannot be underestimated in our lives is the influence of others. People only WE may know, but can change the course of our lives. They won’t make the cover of Time magazine, or be on American Idol or Oprah. They simply lived life and you were better because of them.

The world will never hear of Alvin and Marvel Norris. They were my adopted grandparents growing up. They were members in our church and from my youngest days I remember the love and care they gave for our family. They owned a small jewelry store downtown. Anything to do with jewelry came from them. When I got engaged, they were still open, so I bought my wife’s wedding ring there.

Marvel and Alvin could pray. They interceded for me like few other people ever did. They both passed away a few years ago. By that time there had been family members who had moved them out of my hometown and one of my greatest regrets is I never knew when they passed away so I did not get to go to their funerals.

I learned this morning of another man passing away. Darryl Anderson was a one of a kind guy. He was one of the first members at the church we planted in Leavenworth, KS. He lived at the VA most of his adult life. Darryl was difficult to deal with at times, but over the years whenever I saw him he gave me the biggest smile on the planet and would just talk away about church, the Lord, the weather… anything.

It seems Darryl was on his way to church on Sunday, walking, and probably had a heart attack and died on the street. He practically died the way he lived… anonymously. Yet, I loved that man. As a young pastor, just having ANYONE hang around meant something. But to see Darryl in that church years after we left was meaningful to me. He was so simple, but his joys and pleasures were simple as well. And I envied that. I’m complicated. I get aggravated at world issues even when I can’t do a thing about them. Darryl could be happy with life for that day. He read his Bible and wore it out. Simple joy.

He made me a better pastor. He helped me be a better friend. He may have died in near anonymity, but I am deeply impacted by the loss of his life.

God bless the memory of great friends. They are on to glory and I can’t wait to see them again.

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