Ray Ortlund, Sr.’s Example of All-Out, Risk-Taking, Happy Enthusiasm for Christ

Ray and Anne OrtlundWhen I was a young believer I was significantly influenced by Ray and Anne Ortlund. Ray wrote Lord, Make My Life a Miracle, a beautiful and timeless book. Anne wrote Up With Worship, an extraordinary book that had a huge impact in its day.

I also deeply respect their son, Ray Ortlund, Jr., senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He often refers to his dad and mom in his excellent blog that I follow. For instance, in this post Ray talks about his dad’s ministry journal and what it really means to be a pastor.

When Anne Ortlund died in 2013, this great story was told:

Before Ray’s passing in 2007, he wrote several love notes to Anne and hid them around their house for her to find later. One note she found in 2012 said, “How can I thank you for all you mean to me?”

Another note said, “I was born to love you.”

“That’s a good Presbyterian for you,” she laughed.

“He always had me on his mind,” Anne said. “He was so happy because he lived in the presence of God, but he was conscious of me too.”

In the blog that follows, Ray Jr. talks about the reasons for his father’s happiness:

The most important thing my dad taught me

I think about my dad a lot. I miss him so much it aches. But the most important thing he taught me was this. There is only one way to live: all-out, go-for-broke, risk-taking enthusiasm for Christ.

He used to say, “Halfway Christianity is the most miserable existence of all. Halfhearted Christians know enough about their sin to feel guilty, but they haven’t gone far enough with the Savior to become happy. Wholehearted Christianity is happy, and there is no other happiness.”

How did my dad get there and influence me to go there? He really, really knew that God loved him and had completely forgiven all his sins at the cross of Jesus. He did not wring his hands, wondering what God thought of him. He believed the good news, his spirit soared and he could never do too much for Jesus.

I am thankful for what I saw in my dad. It’s the most valuable thing anyone has ever given me. I want everyone to have this treasure.

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries