Let me tell you about my friend Jon Nobles. Jon was one of the first guys that I felt the nudge of the Spirit to reach out to in my initial years as an inexperienced pastor. Jon, was not without his problems, but when he was good, he was great! He worked hard, had an eager and cooperative attitude, and a heart to serve others. I once received a wonderful letter from his mother, she was so encouraged by his work in the church. Those are days I will always remember.
Jon would give his best effort to preach, teach, and help, and would get convicted of his sin while doing so. I remember on one occasion, he became convicted while changing the message on the church sign out front! On another occasion, he led the way in a prayer line during one of our services. He went through the prayer line having everyone pray for him, and then went through again for good measure! These are wonderful memories that I will always treasure. And although our hearts our saddened at his departure from this world, we will never forget how he lived his life in those moments of God given grace, even if they were brief. Like all of us, if there is any thing good that can be said of us, it must be directed to our Heavenly Father who loves us without condition.
As I reflect on Jon’s life, one moment stands out. Jon was struggling putting a Bible study together that I had asked him to deliver, I directed him to the story of the Prodigal Son. Jon had difficulty wrapping his mind around how the Father in the story could love the rebellious son, and welcome him back into the house without retribution. The son was determined to live a riotous lifestyle, to spend all of his Father’s money, and in the end, found that he didn’t have any friends, or anything to eat. That is when the son returned home to the open arms of his Father. The Father had been awaiting him. He clothed his son, fed him, and had a party in his honor.
Jon struggled understanding this kind of love. Don’t we all? We loved Jon, but mostly we loved him when he was good. God just loved him.