Remembering Norman

by Laurie Hills


Friends of Dick's and mine from college were visiting us in Gary. We all went down to Lake Michigan for a swim. The Dads and children were swimming, while Betty and IDan Stone and Laurie Hills with Norman paddled around, talking about books we had read. I was at the time deeply involved with reading everything I could get by C. S. Lewis. Betty asked me if I had read anything by Norman Grubb. I said that I hadn't heard of him. Well, she said, "He was in our home for an afternoon and I have not before seen a person who is so totally at home with God and man." She asked me to promise to get a book by him and, if that chance came, to hear him. I was reluctant, but did promise, probably without much intention of carrying it out. I was teaching Bible studies in the church we were attending and when we resumed in the fall, Jane said, "Laurie, the man who wrote that little book that we studied last spring will be speaking in a church close to Gary." I hated to hear that, since I "taught" that little book: The Key to Everything only because my father had ordered that little book from Moody Press, liked it and bought many for me to use. I knew almost nothing about what Norman said in that book. I went to hear Norman only because the Spirit (about which I knew nothing then) reminded me that I had made a promise and must keep it.

Norman was in that little church nine times, three times each for three days. The first morning the meeting was down in a basement SS room. He sat on a chair on a little wooden riser. I sat in front, since I knew my susceptibility to being distracted. I had the sense that Norman was totally at ease, sitting up there. He wasn't trying to make contact with the small group. His very being seemed to take us all in. When it was time for him to speak, he came down off the small riser and he was right in front of me. (I later learned that he tried his best to never be above others. Sometimes I remember him refusing to be "up" in a beautiful pulpit.)

His first words forever changed me: "Life is God. All else is sublife."

I didn't miss a time while he was there. One noon a group of us (I invited all I could to hear Norman) took him out to lunch. We were the only ones there, keeping Norman busy with endless questions. All of a sudden we noted that the waitress was repeatedly washing a table close to ours. We smiled and understood. While he was there, I bought his latest book: God Unlimited, took him downtown in Gary to a Travel Bureau and after his last talk, I was thrilled when he asked me to take him to the house where he was staying. When I was driving away, he stood and kept waving.( I learned that such is a lovely English custom.)

Very soon I wrote Norman, thanking him for being the means of opening for me the door into Life. For years long letters flowed between us. He had hands that were misshapen, yet he wrote pages and pages longhand to so many people. Evidently he didn't like to type. His writing was difficult to decipher, but decipher we did --getting LIFE through this Way Shower.

I was Forty years old when God's NPG invaded me with this breathing of the Fresh Mountain Air of the Spirit of the Father and the Son.

Forty one years after being invaded with His Life, I had the fun of spending two days with my daughter and son-in-law at Michigan's Blue Lake Music Camp. Hope and David go there each August for a week. A lovely lady and I connected because of our mutual interest in Art. She asked me to go for a walk with her, which was delightful. She appears to be a very religious person, finding what she thinks she needs in an ancient Christian church. I commented about things I appreciate in my church, but mostly my responses related to what I began KNOWING way back when I began knowing Norman. Near the end of our wonderful two mile walk through the sunlit woods, she stopped, turned, looked directly into my eyes, and said, " Do you know for sure what your mission is for the rest of your life?" I smiled and said, "Absolutely".

Laurie Hills