Note: The following is what I read last Saturday when I was honored with the opportunity to share my remembrances of Calvin Nelson, who passed away Thursday after suffering a stroke (or multiple strokes, in the process of things). He was a dear friend, and will be dearly missed by so many people. My co-pastor, Trish Rousu, also posted a tribute to Cal which brought out more facets of who Cal was. Also, his obituary.
I met Cal about 10 years ago. The church I went to met on Friday nights, and after the service, we would often head to Perkins for food and fellowship.
Cal would usually be waiting for us with a table, after running sound for another church that had Friday night services. We’d shoot the breeze, talk about the Lord, about ministry, and about life. Talking to Cal, you came to realize he knew a lot about a lot of things. And he didn’t just have knowledge, he had wisdom, experience, and just plain common sense. It was always an enjoyable time being with him.
Cal worked in a lot of places. He worked with a lot of folks. But he never viewed what he did as a career or a job. He viewed it as a vocation. He knew he was a minister of the Gospel, though often behind the scenes, he constantly supported the work that so many ministries were doing. For several years, Cal would help us anytime we would do a larger gathering where we needed his skills and equipment.
Five years ago, he started coming around the young adult church we started, just as we moved into a venue in Anoka where we could use a sound system. Cal was one of our biggest supporters, and was always encouraging us in what we were doing. He drove down practically every Monday, whenever he could, to fellowship with us, make our worship team sound good, and hang out afterward at Applebee’s.
He helped our group get a food distribution going that went on for several years. Many hundreds of people have received hundreds of thousands of pounds of food, all because Cal showed up one night with some extra bread from another food distribution that Forrest and others were operating, and it sparked something big.
Cal had a heart for this generation, and wanted to support what God was doing in them, and through them. In 2012, our worship team went to Des Moines to lead worship at a regional conference. I drug Cal down with me, because I wanted someone at the board who shared the values, the heart, the lifestyle of ministry we had, someone who could bring out the very best of what we had to offer. It was powerful. So much so, that the folks who were speaking at the conference were visibly affected by the presence of God.
It wouldn’t have been the same without Cal.
It won’t be the same without Cal.
The past couple years, Cal and I spent most Monday afternoons together. He would come down early, get his errands done, and we’d meet at Wendy’s for a quick bite and we’d spend some time “geeking out” on whatever little project he was tinkering with. He was always learning. He was often doing something neat and creative for someone.
He was kind. He was generous. He was lovable. And sometimes, a bit cantankerous in his “old school” way. He knew exactly who to take under his wing.
The brief moments I’ve shared with you now don’t begin to cover the depth of who Cal was. It’s just a drop in the bucket. Many of you knew Cal much longer than I had, and knew him differently than I had, but I know we can all agree on this:
God gave us a gift when He gave us Cal.
We loved and cherished that gift.
He touched so many lives while he was here.
Many of us will never be the same now that he’s gone.
Our souls are processing the loss of a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend, and a co-worker in Christ.
But let us say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Today we celebrate his life, perhaps through our tears, but soon we will be able to rejoice with him fully! Because today, he is experiencing the reality of who Jesus Christ is in a way that those of us who remain can only dream about and long for.
3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
9 What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.