Sunday, March 27, 2011

Making a Difference

photo by bellabu452
During the past year and a half to two years I have been to more funerals than I care to remember.  Whether these gatherings were called "funeral" or "memorial service" or "celebration of life," there was always an eulogy of some sort, a tribute to the deceased, usually given by a close family member or someone who knew him or her very well. And there was always a time set aside during the service when family and freinds could share what heaven's newest resident meant to them.  Some services had many people share; others had only a few share. Regardless of how many people shared, it was clear that the person made a difference with their life.

What did they do during their lives to make a difference? None of these individuals were famous.  They were mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, colleagues, friends. They all had their own unique flaws. They also had their own unique gifts. They took the time to build relationships with those around them. They gave of themselves, and received love in return.

It is easy to tell that they made a difference with their lives, by the way they are greatly missed by the ones who were closest to them.  There may have been times the person honored thought he was only one person in this vast world of ours, that what he was doing was insignificant or unimportant. I feel that way sometimes. We all do. But what we fail to see in those times is that we are being watched. Somehow, somewhere, in our everyday lives, there is somebody we mean the world to. It's not because we did anything special, like rescue a child from a burning building, or donate a ton of money to a college and have a building named after us. For most of us, we become heroes simply by living life using the unique talents and abilities God has given us.

Doing something that makes a difference in someone's life can be as simple as a phone call, saying I missed you.  It's sharing a cookie with a child whose last-inning strike-out lost the game for the team and telling him you are proud of him, not because he lost the game, but because he did his best. It may come in the form of making a "random" comment that you don't remember what you said, that made someone think twice before making a bad decision. It's been said that 90% of helping is just showing up. The act of being available to listen speaks volumes.

Yes, what we do to make a lasting difference with our life might be something we don't notice. But to the one whose life was impacted, it will be remembered forever.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Calvary. Golgotha. The place of the skull.
No one wants to think of this place.
Criminals meet punishment.
Soldiers wait for dying nobodies to die.
Victims and families finding closure as justice is served.
A place of disgust. Anguish. Death.
Blood-soaked ground. Random bones left behind from the men who died on this hill.
Blood-soaked beams of wood and nails tossed aside, forgotten. Just as the men who they once held up are now forgotten.

No one wants to come here, yet I am drawn to this place.
Drawn by one man who once hung from one cross.
No crime of his own brought him here.
The people called for his death; the political leaders pardoned him.
The people called for his death; the governor ordered soldiers to flog him.
Not enough punishment for the people. They called for his death.
This man was innocent, yet this man did not fight for his own life.

One man. Two beams of wood. Three heavy nails.
Blood-soaked ground. Golgotha.

Crime meets punishment, but it was not his crime that brought him here.
Not his crime; not his punishment.
The people called for his death. He died for the people – the crimes of the people.
He served God’s sentence for their crimes.
Guilt made righteous, by one declared not-guilty.

No, I cannot forget this man, this place.

Our crime, his punishment.
Justice served on Calvary.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Drag Racing

Photo by mpmf59 via
Two lanes. Two cars. Two drivers. One starting signal One finish line. One winner. One prize.

Drag racing. What is it about this type of event that draws the attention of thousands of people? Is it the head-to-head competitive nature? The adrenaline rush of pushing the pedal to the metal in hopes of coming out victorious? Is it the prize itself, whether it’s the pink slip to the other car, getting the girl, or bragging rights to defend your title for another day?

Let me be clear. I am not an advocate of drag racing, mostly because of the dangers of the sport. Even in a controlled environment, the risks are very high. But this post is not about feeding one’s need for speed.

Or is it?

Maybe you’ve known people who live as though they are drag racing through life. They seem to live as though they are racing “real” life racing against the life they “ought” to have. Once the starting signal said “GO!” they became so focused on their goals and on how they plan to get there. The objective: Go, go fast, finish, and finish best. In order to be successful, must work exactly right, with little or no margin for error. One unexpected bump in the road, one minor over-correction, and you risk complete burn-out or spinning hopelessly out of control.

Maybe you don’t know someone exactly like that. The point I am trying to make is that you and I were not created to live life focused on only one thing, while allowing the rest of life go unnoticed. It is important to have goals and plans for life. But our goals and plans for life ought not be the end-all, be-all of our time here on earth. There are bumps in the road, and course corrections do need to be made. If you neglect the course corrections, you veer out of control.

This brings to mind a well-known story of a Special Olympics event several years ago. As the story goes:

A few years ago at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled challenged, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win.

All, that is, except one boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down and looked back. They all turned around and went back. Every one of them.

One girl with Down’s Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, “This will make it better.” All nine linked arms and walked across the finish line together.

Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes. People who were there are still telling the story. Why? Because deep down we know this one thing: What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves.

What truly matters in this life is helping others win, even if it means slowing down and changing our course.
The apostle Paul said, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:14, NLT) We are all in a life race of some sort. Whether your life moves at the pace a fast, loud muscle car, or a respected Lexus, or the mini-van of the soccer mom, or even a too slow Yugo, there is still time to slow down and appreciate the little things. Your life race will come someday to an end – there’s really no need to speed it up. Your heavenly prize will still be waiting for you.

Run strong. Run well. Take time to help the guy with the laughed at leased Pinto. Really, you don’t need to run so fast.