I’ve been thinking lately about the amazing people the Lord has led into my life that have been a true blessing. Those that seem to have had the greatest influence on my life were believers who lived their faith in openness and with intent to be a blessing. It wasn’t an accident; it wasn’t just my good fortune; it happened because they lived their lives intending to yield to the Lord Jesus as He worked through their life to touch mine.
Yes, I have a lot to be thankful for. And those that influenced me the most are the ones that I remember the best.
I remember Mrs. Fry...she was my homeroom teacher and my teacher of mathematics in the seventh grade. I remember her intentionally pulling me aside after class one day to give me the encouragement that I needed at that time not to just go along with the crowd, but to follow the path that Christ has set aside for me. She assured me that I could be the leader instead of the follower and that’s why the Lord had me in that school and in her class. Her remarks fortified the truth I had been learning from Scripture...that the Lord has a purpose for every person and a plan for their life. She was devout; she was a spitball of energy; she was relentless as a teacher and I thought of her as not only my teacher but my friend. I could always talk to her if need be. And I did...many times.
I remember Coach Pierce...the first Coach that really sticks out in my mind. He influenced me by reminding me every day that Christian young men weren’t...as he said it, “Sissies”...that Christians young men were to be strong, to be passionate, to be leaders by actions and by words. He would lead devotionals before our games that taught us the importance of never giving up and that the way you played the game was just as important as playing the game. He introduced me to hard work and gave me my first responsibility as a leader. He allowed me to call the defense. I made the decisions on what the formations and the coverages out on the field should be. And he was never afraid of people knowing that he had faith in Christ. He was a powerful influence. I thought of him as not only my coach but my friend. I could always talk to him if need be. And I did...many times.
I remember Mrs. Ennis. She was my eight grade English teacher. She knew that I struggled with parsing, but she spent extra time helping me to see and understand the value of words and their placement in a sentence to communicate clearly and without misunderstanding. She increased my vocabulary and introduced me to reading for enjoyment. I’m not sure how many books I read and reported on to her. But I did it and I began to enjoy it. And to this day I use the tools she began to equip me with in daily ministry. She would often leave me with the statement that went something like this, “Who knows, someday the Lord may want you to preach the gospel to people in need.” She was stern when necessary, but while others seemed to be afraid of her, I thought of her as not only my grammar teacher but as my friend. I could always talk to her if need be. And I did...many times.
Really, I could go on and on...there have been so many that the Lord has used to bless, mold, challenge, teach, and grow my life. I would imagine that you could do the same. It’s good to stop and think about it and to be moved to thankfulness.
Each one of these that God used was successfully fulfilling their mission as given to them by the Lord in Matthew,
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.Matthew 5:13-16 (NKJV)
You know when your food is seasoned or preserved with just one grain of salt the impact in negligible, but when you have many grains the intended result is realized. A light that is hidden has no impact at all, but when brought out for all to see it does show people the way.
All of these disciples of Christ seasoned my life in just the right way, at just the right time and yes, sometimes preserving my life from the corrupt notions of the world. They were indeed the light I needed to point me to Christ and encourage me, help me, and lead me to live a daily, genuine walk with Him.
And did you notice, whether they were teaching, pushing me to new heights, challenging my lifestyle, whatever, I always thought of them as my friends. The love of Christ just came through them... to me.
We are all called to be the salt and light of the earth. No need for salt and light in heaven...it’s already taken care of there. But here, in a decaying and corrupt world that is just full of little Ralph’s trying to find their way...or might I add...a world full of people of all ages trying to find their way, there is great need for you and for me...for followers of Christ to passionately and intentionally bless the lives of others.
Maybe someday...even after many years...someone will remember you...because you influenced their life to live a deeper and better way with Jesus as their Lord. And maybe, just maybe, they will remember you as not only an influencer, but as a friend. Someone, they could always talk to...and they did.