Considering Luck and God’s Plan by Ron Morse, as told to Casey Kenley
As a youth, I considered myself lucky, or unlucky, depending on the day. I never considered for a minute that the people I met and the experiences I had, the ones that were shaping my young life, had anything to do with God’s plan.
My hometown of Clawson, Michigan, is in the suburbs of Detroit. It was considered a poor town compared to neighboring Bloomfield Hills. Among the 5,000 people who lived in Clawson were some of my best friends: Don Paladino, Bill Hunter, Jack Lolinger. We were close from elementary on up through high school.
I remember as sixth graders, we formed our own baseball team. There were no real bases, just cardboard. We took turns at umpire. The next town over had a Saturday morning basketball program in the winter, and we would go play in other cities and play other teams. Each guy had a role to play. Someone had a basketball, and I think I was the one who tried to call everyone to remind everybody what time we had to play so we could walk the mile to school to play. Parents would drive us if we were playing away games. The group of guys were cohesive and we had a responsibility to one another. That was a great experience. It helped me with what organizational skills I have. Eventually, most of us played baseball and basketball for the Clawson High School Trojans.
I was the youngest of three children in my family. My parents were both very bright, but the city was overwhelming to my mother, who grew up on a farm. She wasn’t very social. My father was a businessman. My siblings were both overachievers — a valedictorian and salutatorian — and I guess you could say I resisted. But my friends accepted me. They helped me grow as an individual and feel part of a community. Was that luck?
I never had that touched-by-God, lightning-bolt moment, although in my church we were expected to have had it by age 12. I got more involved in my church on a big construction project when I was 15. We were moving a little clapboard church that had gone under to make it part of our larger church, serving as an “annex” for Sunday school and other programs. I worked all summer on that project and got really close to the minister, who enjoyed sports like me. Soon, Rev. John Larkin started coming to all our high school games. That’s when my spiritual growth really blossomed. Not that I was such a good boy, but it was in my head, and my heart.
After I graduated from high school, I enrolled at Taylor University, where my sister and brother had attended. My freshman year in 1949, I met a character from Nebraska named Ralph Schuster. We called him “Tex” because he wore jeans, a short denim jacket and boots. No one at Taylor dressed like Tex did. He was a good spiritual influence on me, and a good student.
I met Donna Barrett in 1956 after I had moved back to Clawson and was working as a high school teacher at my alma mater. I shared a house with two other male teachers, and our housekeeping skills were poor. Donna was a friend of a woman who knew one of my roommates. I think they took pity on us and offered to clean our neglected house. Donna was a steady presence with a sense of calm about her. I could tell she was a good person, and she still is. We married in 1958.
It wasn’t until I had children that it kind of hit home for me. I couldn’t just chalk up all these important people who had come into my life as strokes of luck. The only other thing I could come up with is, it’s God’s plan for my life. And I’m sure He had a difficult time keeping me on course! These people, from elementary school to today, are gifts. Through the years, these friendships have helped me to make an impact for children in my own community. They led me to a fulfilling career in education that included heading up initiatives that endure today.
I think of so many events in my life — highway close calls and times when I’ve done dumb things — and wonder, was I lucky or was the Lord looking out for me? Every decision that we make … why did I come to this or that conclusion or decision, and why or why not did it turn out a certain way?
I think God, in his plan, He knows we have to die some time. Will that death have a positive effect on the people that surround you? Hopefully it will in some kind of positive way. Some parts of God’s plan are mysteries. I can’t explain why He takes young people. I think that’s where faith comes in. We can’t understand everything. In uncertain times, I consider the verse, “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
After I retired and we spent 20 years in Colorado Springs, where one of our sons lives, Donna and I moved to Noblesville to be closer to two of our four children. I’ve lost contact with those young boys from my youth. We had class reunions up until 1999. It was beginning to be slim pickings then. I know some have passed away. Growing up, it was hard to imagine God could very well be in charge of everything and person — the good and the bad — in my life. Now, I know it couldn’t have been luck. His purpose was at work all along.
Ron and Donna have been a part of the FPC family for about 8 years. They volunteer regularly and help with the Christian Legal clinic and FPC Lunch program. Ron also served as Session Clerk for two terms. We are blessed to have them in our congregation!