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What Christi Taught Us

“Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.” (James 2:18 RSV)

Christi Nordman died last Friday. She was 60, active and engaged, seemingly healthy, and too young for a massive heart attack, at least to our natural way of thinking. She was my brother’s wife, and we will miss her the rest of our days here. Death has a way of clarifying the life it takes: somehow in an instant we see more vividly the magnum opus—the lifework—of the one now gone from us. Yet Christi’s imprint was always uncomplicated and refreshingly easy to see.

She was a doer, and no task was too big for this determined, undaunted woman. First things first, one step at a time—it’ll get done. But her work that inspired me most was her willingness to do anything for the Kingdom of God. Whether telling others about Jesus or helping people in His name, she was not only willing to serve, but eager to serve. Whenever I asked for volunteers to take a half-hour slot on our three-day, round-the-clock Kairos prison ministry prayer vigil, she would always say, “Give me an hour or two in the middle of the night. I will set an alarm and get up for it.” I doubt she ever missed one of these appointments with God; more likely, she came early and stayed late. To Christi, prayer was no forced obligation; it was opportunity for time with a Friend.

Which brings me to this: Christi’s faith was unwavering, as was her focus. She genuinely looked forward to the day when she would be in the presence of Jesus. This was her focal point, the end toward which she lived her days and served people well. To Christi, deeds were not the means to a close relationship with God, but the expressions of a heart that knows His love. And in the clarity of Christi’s life, I understand much more fully these words from James: “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.” May our faith be so mature, our vision so clear, and our life as fruitful.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 RSV).

Father, thank you for Christi and for those like her who show us the beauty and power of faith that acts. Lead us through a life of purpose, one that knows your love, hears your call and follows your lead. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.