Tuesday, May 17, 2022
It was late in the summer of 1977. Our first child was only seven weeks old. I had moved my small family from North Dakota to Iowa to take a new position in management with my company. We immediately got involved in a wonderful church in town. The pastor happened to be a lifelong acquaintance of my mother. After attending for several weeks, Pastor Garl Brand, whom our daughter would later call “Pastor Grandpa”, invited me to his office. He said something to me that changed the direction of my life. He said that God had impressed upon his heart that I was in the wrong profession. My business experience would be useful in the future, but that I was called to be a pastor and I needed to get back on track. He committed to training me in all the aspects of church life and pastoral responsibility. As a result, two years later, I began a bi-vocational ministry to two small churches in South Dakota that eventually led to full time ministry here in Wisconsin. Garl made a difference in my life.
Today we begin a devotional series about people who made a difference. I’m sure we all have stories of people who made a difference in our lives. I would love to hear yours. In fact, over the next few weeks, we are going to be looking at people who made a difference. If you send me your story of someone who made a difference in your life, maybe I’ll use it in one of these devotionals.
As we start, let me remind you that you are a person who can make a difference in someone’s life. In the little book of Philemon in the New Testament, Paul makes a difference in the life of a slave named Onesimus who had stolen from his master, Philemon, and then run away. Somehow, by God’s grace, Onesimus met Paul while he was under house arrest in Rome. Paul shared Christ with him, and Onesimus became a repentant follower of Jesus. Onesimus had gone from being useless to his former master, to being useful both to Paul and Philemon. Paul made a difference in his life.
Philemon 1:10-11 “I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.”
There are questions that plague many of us. “What difference does my life make?” “What use am I in the world?” “Would anything be appreciably different if I were not here?” I’m sure we have all thought about such things from time to time. I found something written by Keith Robinson, who says,
“There is an old saying about putting your hand in a pail of water and withdrawing it: the hole that remains is how much you will be missed when you are gone! I am not pessimistic, depressed, or tired of living, but in reality, I have to recognize that my life has not made much of an impact on the world, certainly nothing like I had intended when I was 18 years old. But I am encouraged by the fact that human worth is not measured only in terms of fame, fortune, and sociopolitical influence. Perhaps the greatest measure of our value is how much we are needed by some other human being. The once useless Onesimus became ‘useful’ to Paul and to Philemon. When the final books are balanced and closed, the greatest tribute anyone could receive would be: They were useful! Someone needed them! And what greater ambition could a person entertain than to be needed, to be useful. If there is someone who needs my love, if there is someone who looks forward to my presence, even if I can be nothing much more than just the object to someone’s love, then I am not worthless. My life is not in vain. My existence is not futile. I may not be much, but I can love someone and make them feel needed. I can be the object of someone else’s love and thus fill their needs and mine. No one is useless unless they give up on life and love.
Your life does make a difference. God planned it that way. You will have an impact on someone today whether you recognize it or not. Whether that impact will be negative or positive is up to you, but your life will make a difference.