During our Stewardship series last month entitled “How Will You Measure Your Life?” I challenged you, members of this congregation, to make a tangible difference in the lives of the people around you. To be clear, this idea was not my own original thought, but something I heard about and decided to share with all of you.
The idea goes like this. The first thing we need is three objects that might fit in a pocket. I suggested three pennies because they are available and inexpensive. For me, I’m using three guitar picks. Feel free to express yourselves, but be sure it’s something you’re willing to carry with you! Once you have these with you, look for ways to show love and care to someone. One example might be to notice if a co-worker or friend is having a difficult day and offer to take a few minutes for coffee and conversation. The possibilities are endless! But be sure you take some time to express this care. Try to aim for at least ten minutes.
When you’ve done this, move your penny (or other small object) from one of your pockets to the other as a sign that you’ve shown care to someone. And the reason to carry three pennies is to help you to do this three times in a week. And the challenge is to do this every week for a full year. If you’re able to reach this goal, you have the potential to touch 156 lives in positive ways over the course of the year. And if we all do this, our congregation has the potential to touch more than 20,000 lives!
But there’s something else. Not only do we have the opportunity to touch lives, we may find that our lives are touched as well. An acquaintance I met years ago in Seminary posted a story on Facebook that I’d like to share with you (with his permission). Here is his full story:
On my way home from work, I decided to stop at a McDonald’s to get a Southwest Chicken Salad and after pulling up and getting out of my car, I see a man on his knees searching for something on the ground. I asked him if he needed help with anything and he said that he needed to find his cane because he was blind. I saw it about fifteen feet away and picked it up and brought it to him. When I gave it to him he told me that a teenager kicked it out of his hand and threw it across the parking lot after asking for help. I told him how awful that was and asked him if he was going to get food. He said he was and he said he was going in there to wait for someone because he didn’t want to be in the cold. I asked if I could buy him dinner and he excitedly said yes.
After buying food we sat down and he asked me how old I was. I told him I was 31. He asked me if I studied in school and told him I was getting a masters degree in counseling but had a masters in theology as well. I said to him, “You don’t have to respond to this but I would love to hear about what being blind has been like for you.”
“I wasn’t born blind. I went blind. I had to learn how to adjust my life in every single way from how I tied my shoes, to eating, to transportation and my living situation. All of that aside, I now feel less blind than when I had sight. Just because you have eyes doesn’t mean you see life clearly. That young man who kicked my cane out of my hands, he is blind. Cruelty and hate blinds you, love allows you to see. When you mistreat others, you close your eyes to them. When you love someone, you take time to see them. You saw me today and that’s how I know love is in you. Love heals our eyes. When we are seen, we open our eyes and can see. When we listen to others, we give them a voice. You are giving me a voice right now. I see the world more clearly now. I know the pain of not being seen and heard made me close my eyes to the world. I know being seen has made me want to love more people and take the time to notice them. Love opens our eyes. Hate closes them. I love when Gandhi said that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”
“That’s really powerful stuff!” I said to him.
“The world is blind because it is so scared and angry. We need the love right now. That’s the truth!”
Shortly after saying that, a man came in calling his name and helped him leave the place so he could get home. What he didn’t know was how much his words were much needed for me because of a life struggle that I have been dealing with for the last month. God meets us in mysterious and strange ways.
Friends, remember that our call to transform the world usually leads to our own transformation as well. May we continue to meet God in mysterious and strange and wonderful ways.