The brevity of life is on my mind this week for several reasons. I am participating in a bible study on this topic, I am remembering the death of my brother 35 years ago this month, and this week my friend Ron Pershall went home to be with Jesus at 6:45 p.m. October 20, while Marcia, his wife of 56 years, was holding his hand.
It was COVID.
I have been imagining what I might say at his funeral, or write in a blog post, or put in a card to Marcia.
What will I say about Ron’s life?
Death naturally produces a need for summary. One funeral home reports HERE the average obituary is 200 words, but can reach 400 words or be reduced to 50. That is getting pretty brief.
What will people say about you and me?
There will be a day in earth’s history when people will be summarizing my life – and yours. Though we have no control over what people think or say about us, we do have a lot of control over what type of life we want to live in order to increase our chances of people saying something that would align with what we had hoped. If the masses never understand us, at least the people who knew us best and loved us most could summarize well – particularly our family, close friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ.
Here are my 625 words about Ron.
You don’t know this spiritual giant. He is not famous, but you will meet him in heaven as one with faith like Abraham and faithful and excellent leadership like Moses. He is most certainly famous in a part of rural Pennsylvania.
The first verse he taught me was 2 Timothy 2:2: The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Ron spent his entire adult life sharing Jesus and teaching others to do the same.
Ron and his wife Marcia opened their basement to local high school kids on Friday nights and established Action-Impact. I attended one of those meetings as a visitor when I was in middle school, and someone shared the gospel with me (what it means to know God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ).
I became a Christian.
My brother, Dan, whom I am grieving this month as well HERE, also attended Action sometimes. I have been told by some eyewitnesses that my brother also accepted Christ as Savior at Action.
Transfer to Others
Ron’s imprint on my life was to care about peoples’ souls first and foremost. After active involvement in Action through high school, off to college I went, sharing Jesus with students in my college dorm just like Ron had taught me.
Fast forward over 40 years since high school, and guess what? Ron had never stopped. When Action outgrew the basement, he had a building built to accommodate the larger crowds. When a local church needed a pastor, Ron said, “I’ll serve!” When Ron learned from Josh McDowell that kids now need to hear the gospel in grades 3-5 because we live in a post-Christian era now, another building designed for kids was built and Junior Action began. My last visit with Ron and Marcia took place this summer in that new building.
On paper, Ron’s “real” job was as a businessman who owned a chocolate company. He had every reason to put his feet up and minister to kids part-time, or maybe not at all. After all, he had a full-time job and a family! But Ron knew the secret of a life lived well isn’t connected to a seminary degree or a full-time ministry job title. He knew the qualifications of living a 2 Timothy 2:2 life were a passion for Jesus Christ and availability. Ron taught me that no matter what, we can live as ambassadors for Christ.
There are now thousands of adults who were once kids in Action, and each of us knew what Ron was going to ask when he saw us, emailed or texted: How is your time with Jesus? How can I pray for you? What can I do for you?
Only the end of time will reveal the true results of Ron’s life of faith with Marcia, his kids, and Action-Impact. (Action was a family affair.) Action’s thousands of adults have now touched thousands more in true 2 Timothy 2:2 style. Ron will be delighted when God shows him. The picture God gave Abraham of descendants as numerous as “stars in the sky and sand on the seashore” had Action-Impact in it, and now I pray the rest of those blessed by Action remain passionate and pass Jesus along to others as well.
It is over
How time flies. Life feels long while we are in it, but when we turn around, we know the truth. It was nothing. Ron sacrificed his short life for the cause of Christ and will now enjoy eternity forever having lived his time well.
Let’s live the same way.
Picture Explanation: Ron, Marcia, his little church, Action
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