By Kelly Larson (Bishop Creek Community Church, CA)
It was nearly a decade ago that my mentor Wally Norling and his wife Betty came to Bishop to be part of my installation at Bishop Creek Community Church, so I was very happy to be at his funeral as we celebrated his installation into eternity with his Lord Jesus Christ.
Our family had a long history with Wally, but I was reintroduced to him when I just happened into his class after serving communion one day. They had donuts, Wally was teaching. I thought I’d stay. I am glad I did. I loved the way he opened up God’s Word. His teaching always had substance. He was always concerned about the “flow of the logic of the grammar of the text.” It was always about God’s Word, not about Wally’s opinion. I continued to come to the class. After a few Sundays, I chased him down and asked, “This stuff is great. Why isn’t this on tape?” As always, he was less than impressed with himself, and merely shrugged his shoulders.
After a while, I asked Wally if he would be willing to meet with me, to be my mentor. I found out later that this was not all that unique of an idea as he had met with perhaps, hundreds of individuals and couples. After checking his schedule, he agreed to meet with me.
I wonder looking back how many strays had followed him home? How many strays like me Wally had brought through the door? How many times had he looked at Betty as if to say, “Another one followed me home; can we keep him?” But Wally had a way with strays like me. Betty was always gracious providing cookies, or brownies, or milk, or conversation.
We met for several years. I was not a pedigree specimen by any stretch of the imagination. I am sure I was a great challenge to him, but, in spite of that, we had a good time. Wally had a very simple way about him, but he definitely had a way of getting his teaching across. He saw something in me I hadn’t acknowledged was there. I certainly am in ministry today because God moved through the hands of this servant of Christ; I thank God for Wally.
Ephesians 3:11-12 says,
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”
As I looked at the number of individuals at Wally’s memorial, it was clear to see that, for Wally, it was all about growing the Kingdom, building up the Church in maturity by the authority of God’s Word, and building up in numbers. He used his gift well.
Wally Norling spread a very broad mantle during his ministry. Serving as pastor, superintendent of the Southwest District, church planter, interim pastor, and mentor he cast a very long shadow upon the EFCA. I am privileged to have been under that mantle. But today I have surrendered my friend to his new home in the loving care of his Savior; he has finished well. And, as Wally would have wanted it, I give all the glory to his Lord Jesus Christ.
Wally lived by three guidelines: 1) Remember, you have nothing to prove. 2) Be transparent. 3) Be secure. You have nothing to prove; you belong to God, you have already won the prize. Be transparent, be real to those around you, God accepts you, so should they. Let God shine through you. Be secure – your portion, your inheritance is in God, not in what others think of you, or what you have done in your life.
All good words to consider.
Never downplay the affect you can have on others by using your God-given gift!
Here is another tribute to Wally from Brad Brison, another EFCA Pastor.
Sure did love Wally!! Love Kelly, too!!