Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In the Presence of Greatness (Ken Ellis)

My devotional tonight is again from the pen of my good friend, Ken Ellis. Please remember me on my mission in Can Tho, Vietnam!

I think it may have been the spring of 1964 when our high school band
was invited to play for a visiting celebrity at our little town’s city hall. The
owner of a local quarter horse ranch was hosting someone who had come to
town to look at his horses, and his guest had been invited to make a speech
while he was in town. Our band played a few songs, someone made a few
introductory remarks, and up to the podium stepped Ronald Reagan. I would
give almost anything to remember what he had to say that night.

It was the summer of 1965, and I was headed home. As a recent high
school graduate, I had spent the summer hitch-hiking the Appalachian
Mountains of West Virginia as a Bible salesman for the Southwestern
Company out of Nashville. As I boarded the Piedmont Airlines jet in
Charleston and walked down the aisle, one of my boyhood idols occupied a
window seat looking straight ahead as the passengers filed by. There sat
Mickey Mantle, bigger than life. As I passed by all I could think about was
“wow, I had seen the Mick in person.”

Washington, D.C., summer of 1981. I was in D.C. as part of a three man
negotiating team with General Dynamics. We were visiting the Israeli
Embassy to negotiate the sale of a wind tunnel for F-16 fighter aircraft the
U.S. was selling to the Israeli government. We arrived in D.C. late that
afternoon, checked into our hotel, and then walked to a nearby restaurant for
dinner. Soon after being seated, there was a commotion in the rear of the
restaurant. In walked none other than Muhammad Ali on the arm of a pretty
young woman. They sat down just two or three tables from us. Most of the
customers lined up for autographs and referred to him respectfully as

Los Angeles, sometime in 2000. I was traveling with Bill, a work
associate, to visit potential contractors for an upgrade of the Oil Museum in
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. I liked traveling with Bill because his department
picked up the tab. Bill booked us at the Beverly Wilshire on Rodeo Drive.
Little did I know upon check-in that the next morning I would have breakfast
with Sidney Poitier. Well, I sort of had breakfast with him. He was
sitting two tables away finishing breakfast as we were seated. It looked like
he had eggs that morning.

My most recent exposure to “greatness” of the celebrity kind was in
Nashville in 2008. The hotel we were staying in had twin glass elevators. As
I exited one of the elevators, I came face to face with Rock and Roll Hall of
Famer Little Richard. You may remember his first big hit “Tutti Frutti.” Or
you may not. He smiled and said, “Hello.” As I walked past him, I blurted
out something like, “I love you man. Are you coming back as a judge on
American Idol?” He replied, “Yes,” but he never did.

Each of these men were celebrities in their own fields, but all they
could offer me in this life were pieces of paper with their names scribbled
on them. Eventually, all that will remain will be fading memories for those
who idolized them. We may never achieve celebrity status in this life, but
someday each of us will stand in the presence of Jesus Christ. And when
that day comes, we shall all stand “in the presence of true and everlasting

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of
glory that will never fade away. 
I Peter 5:4.

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

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