I recently flew to Chicago to attend my mother’s funeral. During the ceremony my brother shared a story I had never heard before. It impressed me as an example of how the Spirit of God can use each of us in surprising ways during ordinary moments to pass on a legacy of faith.
The story goes like this: As a young boy, my brother Jim went out to play with his friends. He found them together and discovered that there was a new boy with them whom they were now evidently regarding as their leader. When my latecomer-brother joined the group, he became the object of this new boy’s mean-spiritedness. The young man passed out a candy to each of the other boys except my brother. Then he announced, “I want to play with all of you—except for that boy (pointing to my brother).”
Jim expected his friends to rally to his defense, but the new boy had them in his thrall, and no one made a move to help. He returned home dejected and weeping.
He shared the story with my mother who listened patiently. After processing the event with him, she took out a bag of candy and said, “Jim, I want you to go out there and give one of these candies to each of those boys.” Instantly a picture sprang to my brother’s mind of how he would get his revenge by giving candies to all of his friends, but not to the new boy. Then my mother added, “And Jim, Jesus says we should turn the other cheek. I want you to give a candy to the boy who hurt you.”
Reluctantly, Jim returned to the group to hand out the treats. He went around the circle placing a candy in the hand of each boy, and when he came to the gang leader, he placed a candy in his hand too. The boy was visibly surprised, and a bit shaken, by the gesture. He mumbled a few unintelligible words, then turned and walked home. He was never seen in the neighbourhood again.
What happened to that boy, and how this act of forgiveness might have impacted his life, we do not know. We do know, however, that in an ordinary day’s activities a woman took the time to show love to someone and to respond to him as she thought Jesus would. As a result of her faithfulness, she shaped a life and impacted others through that life. Her story is still being told 50 years later.
Each of us has the potential to do what my mother did. Who knows when God might use you in an ordinary moment to impact a life and change the world in some small but significant way. It may—and probably will—happen when you do not even realize how God plans to use you. Let’s stay open to the Spirit moment by moment.
– Pastor Tom
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