My friend Norman Bales passed away and his funeral was Monday, November 12th, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. You can read his obituary HERE.
Norman and his beloved wife Ann had a newsletter once upon a time called All About Families. They wrote about various family issues from a Christian perspective with warmth and wisdom. I also found it easy to detect a humble spirit in the way that they wrote. They didn’t talk down to people who had family problems. I liked that about them.
So I invited them to come to Central Church of Christ in Pascagoula, MS, where we ministered for several years. I don’t know the year because I have never been a good keeper of records. I remember that weekend for several reasons. One, having Norman and Ann in our home. I remember the way that Ann talked to Maggy about being a minister’s wife and the compassionate and caring way she talked about the specific challenges with that role. Also, Norman treated me like I was an old friend. I was a young preacher absorbing the wisdom of my older brother, almost thirty years my senior.
They did something together that is common today, but wasn’t as common then. When they taught their family seminar, they both taught together. Ann was there beside Norman as they shared their wisdom and knowledge about family strengths and weaknesses, strategies and Scriptures. They did it in an unassuming manner, presented such vital material, and really blessed all who participated.
Getting Norman’s weekly Sunday Night Updates via email was a joy. He communicated about their physical issues (which were many for both of them) and the latest things he had been thinking about. He told us about the people he grew up with. When they passed, he shared the best things about his friends that he would miss.
When I moved to Monroe, Norman and Ann lived in Minden. I intended to go see them, but it wasn’t long before they moved to Cedar Rapids. I have some Norman Bales books in my library. He Died to Make Men Holy, How Do I Know I’m Saved, and A Sense of Belonging are three of them. In those books his message of grace shines through.
Norman had an impact on my spirit both when we had that weekend together and from afar. Preachers do not always age well. Sometimes they can turn mean, grouchy, objecting to anything that is different from the generation they knew best. Sometimes they turn wise and try to dispense what they can to the younger generation coming up. (And of course some young preachers listen and some don’t!) Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll grow grouchy as I grow older, but I pray to grow more graceful. Norman was a good example of growing graceful … seasoned by the love of Christ over many years.
Norman made a difference. He will be missed by many. Do yourself a favor and read the thoughts of his son, Elliot. They blessed me so much as I read them HERE.