“This is the one I esteem. He who is humble and contrite and trembles at my word.”
I owe much of who I am today to my paternal grandfather, Ord Lee Morrow, who, along with my grandmother, Opha, were some of the strongest spiritual influences in my early life.
Before I write anything else, am I the only one who thinks that a guy named Ord HAD to marry a girl named Opha? Ord and Opha—talk about a match made in heaven! :)
What I remember most about my grandfather was his deep reverence for God’s word. You didn’t dare say anything that even remotely sounded like a swear word around him. I got a firm and convicting lecture one day after saying, “Oh my gosh” in my grandparents’ kitchen. I would never be able to say or even hear that phrase again for the rest of my life without the sound of his rebuke following it.
My grandfather pastored many small Christian and Missionary Alliance churches from the East Coast to the West Coast, while at the same time recording countless “Time Out For Good News” radio messages for Back To The Bible Radio Ministries in Lincoln, Nebraska. He also wrote and published over a dozen books and booklets on a variety of Christian topics.
My grandfather was a friend of A.W. Tozer’s. Their friendship started during one annual CM&A conference when my grandfather was a young new pastor who didn’t really know anyone and felt a little out of place as a country boy surrounded by city-educated and well-to-do pastors from all over the country. As my grandfather tells it, he was on his way out to lunch one day when Tozer approached and invited my grandfather to join him. On their way out the door a dozen other important people tried to stop Tozer for some conversation or invitation of their own, but Tozer kept saying, “I’m on my way to lunch with my good friend Morrow, here, so I’ll have to get back to you later.” My grandfather couldn’t believe Tozer was going out of his way to befriend a “nobody” (his own words) when so many other “important” people wanted his time and attention. A life-long friendship began that afternoon.
In my eyes, there was no one on earth more humble than my grandfather. He seemed to be proud of only one thing: that he was called to serve God. And serve God he did, wholeheartedly. Almost every time I heard him preach, he would get choked up when describing God’s love, and he would beg his listeners to contemplate the grace of God, offered to all humanity through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In his later years, my grandparents would travel to many countries on evangelistic crusades with a small missions team of musicians, pastors, and counselors. I have a handful of audio recordings of his messages which I cherish dearly.
But apparently, my grandfather was not always the humble and kind man that I knew as a young boy and teenager. His life started out very hard on the plains of the midwest, as the son of poor parents and an alcoholic father who would eventually remove himself completely from Ord’s life (until many years later). As the story goes, my grandfather came to know Christ through a set of circumstances involving a milk bucket and some ornery cows.
After being hired by a local farmer to milk cows, my grandfather found himself cursing these animals every time he sat down to milk them because they would constantly swat him with their stiff tails. He would get so upset that he couldn’t help cussing them out with every swear word he knew (many of which he had learned from his dad). What began to really trouble him was just how easily the cows could cause him to lose his temper and self-control. He noticed that the animals could care less what he called them and he knew they wouldn't change, but what about him? Was he just an animal, too? Could he change? These were the thoughts running through his troubled mind one day as he walked home after another milking/cow-cursing session at the farm. While passing by the town church, he heard the loud preacher talking about the love of God. Something made my grandfather duck inside and slide into the back row. As he listened to the pastor talk about God’s grace and mercy towards undeserving sinners and about the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to make us clean in God’s sight and change us from the inside out—Ord Morrow felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit and made his way to the front of the church where he prayed with the pastor to give his heart and life to Jesus Christ.
Of course, that was just the beginning of his incredible story. In just a few year's time, he would feel called and begin to preach himself, and would eventually make his way (still poor and uneducated) to St. Paul Bible College in Minnesota where he would be educated, trained, prepared, and sent out for a lifetime of Christian ministry.
It’s amazing to me to think about how God’s undeserved intervention in one young boy’s life has so far eternally impacted four generations of Morrow families and counting. I’m so thankful to God for those ornery cows!
Click HERE for an online audio sermon from Rev. Morrow titled "Chosen and Peculiar People", as well as an excerpt from his book "Straight Thinking About Spiritual Growth" that calls people to overcome life’s circumstances to minister to those needing Jesus.