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All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

As Sam Ericsson used to say, there’s no “bad” news, only good news and other news. Sam, ever the story-teller, touched our lives in many amazing ways. I can think of no better tribute to him than to share with you an acrostic:

S         Steward. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33

A         Advocate. “What you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.” Matthew 25:40

M         Mercy Lover. “What does the Lord require of you … but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

        Encourager. “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.” Philemon 1:7

R         Resourceful. “Love the LORD your God, with all your heart … soul … strength … and … mind.” Luke 10:27

I         Immigrant. Born 1944 in Sweden; came to U.S. in 1953; returned “Home” January 21, 2011. “But our citizenship is in heaven.” Philippians 3:20

C         Christ-like. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

S         Servant. “For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:18

S         Sower. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6

O         One-of-a-kind. “I praise you for I am wonderfully and fearfully made!” Psalm 139:14

N         Numbers. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  Psalm 139:16

Sam reminded us of the importance of “never owner, always steward.” He lived that out with his generosity and the investments he made in the lives of men and women around the globe. As a lawyer who happened to graduate from Harvard, Sam was an advocate for others his entire career, from his anti-trust clients to religious liberty clients in the US and abroad. In his travels, Sam was moved by what the Lord showed him and lived out Micah 6:8 with integrity.

Sam was an encourager who made sure his listeners understood the true meaning of the word—“to put courage in.” He was incredibly resourceful, but always knew that all things come from our Father in heaven. Many will recall that Sam used to remind us “God owned the cattle on a thousand hills, and maybe He could sell one for us.”

Sam was a proud Swede, a proud American, and most importantly, proud to be a citizen of heaven. He never shied away from letting others know the importance of Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” And Sam’s Christ-likeness was borne out by his adherence to his life verse, Philippians 4:13, and his humility in acknowledging that his biggest challenge was too often his own failure to complete that verse. As he used to say, “I can do all things. Period. I just sometimes forget to rely on Christ.”

Sam had a servant’s heart and he and Bobby opened their home to thousands of guests. In addition, Sam was a true follower of the Great Commission, sowing seeds of grace and Christ’s love and doing so with generosity. Moreover, he based AI’s “LORD” model for planting and recruiting advocates on Acts 1:8. Sam Ericsson was truly one-of-a-kind.

That is the Sam I knew and loved. He was incredibly bright and had a gift for numbers and dates and the details of life. He knew how to weave those details into stories that were exciting and encouraging. And I pray that the following passage from C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia will be an encouragement to all of us who loved Sam’s stories:

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” (C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle (Harper Collins: New York, 1956) p. 228).

Brent M. McBurney

– This article comes from AI’s “No Higher Calling,” a devotional for lawyers.

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