The year was 1971, and I was almost thirteen years old. I don’t remember the exact circumstances leading up to my doing what I did - I just remember that I did it. I bought two Bibles, and then gave them away to two very different men. Why I was compelled to do such a thing, or why I chose these two individuals, I have only recently figured out. But back then, back when they were ‘heathens’ and I was a young Christian, it must surely have been God’s idea combined with my desire to ‘save the world’ that began the reworking of all our lives.
The first recipient of a brand new Bible was a high school Senior. He was a long-haired hippie wild child who flirted with the girls even as he flirted with a dangerous lifestyle. The other beneficiary of the Book was the exact opposite. He was one of my teachers, and was clean-cut, no-nonsense, and for some reason I believed him to be a non-believer.
I know that one of them has no recollection of the gift, much less the moment I gave it to him. And I truly doubt the other man can recall the same. And that’s okay. For, as often happens, it is the giver, not the receiver, who is appointed to cradle the memory, and then recall it when God sees fit - or when He wants to make a point!
A few months ago, I had an insightful visit with the first recipient. Guess what? He became a Christian six years ago. Last week, I had the opportunity to visit via phone with the second recipient. He had become a Christian two years ago. And my heart rejoices for both of them.
Not even for a fleeting moment or breath do I believe that these two men became Christians only because one young, awkward and fairly zealous girl handed them a Bible over thirty five years ago. But I do believe that without realizing it at the time, all three of our lives were blessed, changed and enriched because of the experience, and from that moment on.
So, dear readers, here’s the point of this week’s column: Each of us, with and by the grace of God, has the power to positively and wondrously affect and potentially alter forever the lives of those around us! An unexpected gift, a word of encouragement, a note of thanks, time spent together, a hug, a compliment, or even just a smile….each of these sometimes seemingly insignificant gestures are in fact catalysts that hold the possibility of affecting the future of another human being’s life. And you have to admit - that’s just pretty awesome!
Thus, stop a moment and think back along your own path through life. Was there a special teacher, was there a stranger, was there a preacher or a friend, was there someone (or many ones) who joyfully and freely offered you a ‘cup of kindness’ - a cup from which you still drink, even though days or decades have long since played themselves out? If so, then may you think of each of them - these sparks that changed your life - as you, in turn, pour kindness, light and love upon those souls you chance to meet along this road we call life!