At times it easy to miss the important because it comes disguised as the ordinary. There are conversations with children that become the spark for discovery and change. There were many times when after preaching a sermon, I thought “Oh that was awful.” I would even ask God to help me to do better next time, yet someone would tell me that God used something said in the message that was just what they needed to hear. I had a young person see me in a restaurant who asked me if I remembered her? She told me she knew me when she was ten years old. She told me her name, and then I identified her family, and she indicated that while I was her pastor, I told her to go to my alma matter to college. She did, and she wanted me to know she met her husband and is enjoying her family and career, and she only went to Olivet Nazarene University because I suggested it to her when she was ten years old! There is no recollection in my memory bank of this conversation. She clearly remembers it, I do not, yet to her, it was a big deal. This story does not tell you what a great guy I am, but rather a call to remember that our words count.
A pastor in my hometown called me last week. He told me of the death of lady from my home church. She and her husband have passed the 90-year mark. I talked about what a special person her husband was to me. When I was 13 years old, I had no father, and I was floundering. One Sunday after church, my Junior High Sunday School teacher asked me if I would like to go with him to the father and son banquet that our church was having the day before Father’s Day? I had never done anything with my father. I never met him. I could today drive to Fort Wayne Indiana and go to the church building and take you to the very spot where Joe Yater asked me to be his adopted son for an evening. Tears fill my eyes, and I have a lump in my throat as I write this, because the impact in my life was more significant than one evening, one meal, one car ride with Joe. Through Joe, I was reminded that God loved me and would take care of me. I am not sure to this day he understands what that did for me, or what a vivid memory it is 48 years after the fact. It cost him a little bit of money and time, but it was life-changing for me.
I am convinced that the significant things we do for people may not be remembered as long as the little things said and done at a pivotal time. As I reflect on my life, I am a recipient of gracious acts of kindness from ordinary people that have left an extraordinary impact on my life.
Today Lord I want to be the person who says a word of kindness and performs an act of service that reminds people that God has not forgotten about them.