When the sunset fades on any one life…
there is so much beauty and so many memories.
When the sun sets someday on my life, I am certain few people will have had the impact on my character, my walk with Jesus, and my calling as Ron and Cathi Salsbury. I am one of thousands who might say that same thing.
Ron is funny. He is gentle. In my experience his ability to communicate caring to hundreds at a time has never been equalled. He has walked the road of cancer with stunning courage and grace for well over a decade. The lessons from his journey and his ministry have left a permanent mark on my soul and are rich for anyone who shares in them…
All families have weirdness. And the church is a family, so expect it to have weirdness.
It’s just true. We are not a perfectly put together group starched and polished in Stepford pristine-ness. We are flawed and sinful. Ron would remind us of that truth with a gentle smile that said, “It’s okay. Hang in there. There is beauty in weirdness.”
No pastor can have a passion for all things. Grabbing ahold of this truth and clinging to the grace that it breathes is life-giving.
New Life is the first church I ever faithfully attended. I grew up as a Christian in the walls of that church. I learned to serve; I found my passion and my gifting; and developed the framework for seeing every pastor I come across from that point on…I know no pastor can have a passion for all things
They can have a passion for people and for the things GOD has called them to. As people in the pews, we should learn to give our pastors that freedom. We should support them emphatically to do what God has laid before them an not demand they do what God has laid before us.
There is room for varying priorities in the body of Christ. Your answer to my request is a NO? I understand. Because Pastor Ron explained to me years ago that every pastor has his own limits…and no pastor can be great at everything.
There are solutions to problems in God’s word. Ron is a gifted topical preacher.
It was under the guidance of Pastor Ron that I learned to use the Bible as a guide for decision making, value forming and life planning. Listening to his sermons on Sunday mornings helped me realize going to church didn’t make me a good person, it was good for my life. I learned forgiving was a greater gift to me than the forgiven; love is a verb not a noun; the Cross is greater than I can ever fathom; and God really, really, really does love me.
Christians disagree. This was a big disappointment to me.
For the first few years of my faith I kinda thought everyone thought the same thing about almost everything. I really liked it that way.
The problem was no matter how much I believed it, that wasn’t reality.
Pastor Ron helped me begin to differentiate majors and minors. He also walked me through accepting that people will also disagree on the majors and the minors. Walking out our faith was a major. The logs in my eyes were majors, the specks in others were not.
Questions are helpful. Clarity serves relationships better than assumptions.
Several years ago Ron mentored me through a difficult time in ministry. I came to him broken and confused and his guidance helped me navigate my way out of the woods. Often his advice came in the form of encouraging me ask questions of the other people involved. “I think you need to ask for a specific example in order to understand what they are saying…”
That one practice defused several areas that caused me pain and confusion. I want to make it a practice I use in everyday relationships…
People like to laugh. Because New Life was the first church I ever regularly attended, I kind of expected all pastors to be funny.
Again, I was facing disappointment.
I have gotten over it, and genuinely love many pastors who don’t make me laugh from the pulpit as often, but Pastor Ron’s humor is a gift. Like Desi Arnez in I Love Lucy he can use body language to take a joke to the next level. Since I moved half an hour north and needed to take my kids to church where they could plug in with their friends, I am only at New Life during missions weekends and gearing up for projects.
I love how easy it was to get in to the rhythm of a Ron Salsbury sermon. It felt like coming home…
And now, as the journey appears to be heading into the season of Hospice, to the man who has believed in me (for who I really am) more than any man besides my husband and my father, and his beautiful and wise wife whose words when I began serving set the table for grace and freedom for the rest of my life, I believe you already know how much I cherish you. My tears are not tears of terror, but genuine grief.
I believe we only grieve those things we are grateful for. That is you. One thousand times over and overflowing my heart is full of joy and gratitude that I was abundantly blessed by you for decades.
I KNOW JESUS WILL HEAL YOU. I just don’t know which side of heaven it will be on. I pray for the peace that transcends all understanding. I pray for laughter, even in the midst of this.
And I thank you for who you are and your abundant gifting poured out over a community and around the world. Well done, good and faithful servant.