Friday, February 8, 2019

You ARE Making a Difference


Yesterday morning there was a loud knocking on my front door.  It was 4AM.  It was the police.
Twelve hours before, I had been in the nearby chapel for my (early) evening prayers.  I felt the Lord’s presence overwhelm me there, and my planned hour stretched into three.  God had other plans.  I wrote extensive words to someone who, I was led to believe, needed to read those words.  Many thoughts came together in a story.
Leaving the chapel, it was later than I had planned.  I had people coming to stay with me and I needed to rush home to prepare --- and send off the words I had written.  I opened my phone to turn on the sound again and saw I had three messages.  As I drove home I listened to the recordings and then returned the calls as requested by each one.  And (something I should never do) as I drove home I tried to make notes of what the people were asking of me.  I arrived home, and as my garage door was going up I ended the last of the calls, closed my phone, and thought of the tasks I quickly had to do.
I never did turn on the phone’s ringer.
My guests arrived, stressed from their day.  We watched the movie I Am David together, to calm our minds.  They had never seen it.  The movie is about a young boy who decides to change his life, and follow the directions of someone he trusts.  It is a big move.  He has many adventures, doing good things for strangers along the way, and being surprised they want to do good things for him, and he also learns to pray, and trust that prayers are answered.  In flashbacks we see the friend, whose directions he is following, choosing to die in the young boy’s place, for the bad thing the boy had done.  And in the end the boy finally reaches the destination he struggled to reach, and is totally surprised by the wonderful new life which awaits him.  It is a story about our lives and destinations, too.
My houseguests loved the movie, and the story about how we must persist in the direction we were told to go.  The boy had talents to help his journey, as we do.  He couldn’t imagine the beauty of his destination, and sometimes wondered if it was worth the effort, as we do.  And ultimately his love of neighbor helped him reach his goal --- as ours will.  He didn’t understand how, but he was making a difference in the world, which resulted in it making a difference in his world.
Later, when I saw the police at my door in the early morning, dark thoughts flashed through my mind.  They asked my name, and after I confirmed I was whom they were looking for, they said to call a friend, who was worried about me.  By this time my mind was waking up, and I apologized to the policemen for having forgotten to turn my phone back on.  I thanked them for coming to my door, and they politely left.
Turning on my phone, I saw I had missed 15 calls.  And, calling my friend, she was anything but gracious.  She was in panic.  Difficult trials were going on in her life and in the lives of those she loves, and not being able to reach me she assumed yet another trial might be coming.  She knows I have health issues, and feared what my failure to answer could mean.  I couldn’t apologize enough for the pain I caused her.
We had a long conversation, eventually talking about most of the dark things happening around her, and how she, I, our friends, and God might help.  Insights from the movie I had earlier watched formed my thoughts on God’s plans, the big picture, and our efforts.  I think it left both of us more eased, and with thoughts on our next steps, using our talents even as David did his in the movie.
During the next day, I spoke to the people staying with me, my gym instructor, people at the food distribution ministry, and people I delivered food to.  Online, I exchanged notes with people needing help or encouragement, I sent the long message I had written in the chapel, and I spoke to people who could be of help to those I knew needed help.  I didn’t think I was helping much, like young David didn’t, and I was a bit surprised by some of the grateful things said by those I was helping --- as David was.  One group of people said they were praying for me, and I didn’t even know them!
And I realized how much I --- how much WE --- make a difference in this world, and so often we don’t even know it.  And all those things we do help us along toward our own wonderful destination, which we are not sure when, or if, we will reach.  But we trust, as young David did, and follow the directions of Someone who died for us.
So many good things happened in the past 24 hours, set in motion by a mistake, and triggered by two policemen who likely thought they were wasting their time, waking up some old guy and telling him to turn his phone on.  And, spread by good hearts, events went on to affect many more people, in ways they often won’t understand.
At the end of my day, I stopped at my favorite local restaurant, to buy two gift certificates.  On them I wrote: “You make a huge difference in this world,” and took them over to the police station.  And two good men, who probably wondered if they are making a difference through their efforts, learned that at least one person thought they were.
And if you are reading these words, I suspect you are one of those people on the journey, trying to follow The Path, and wondering if your efforts matter either.  I tell you most confidently: 
You ARE making a difference.

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