Adam Lanza walked into a school and killed innocent children. His change was bad, and his actions changed many lives. In fact, through his decisions, not only did he change the lives of the people he killed, he changed their families, their community and even their country. We will forever remember those actions, though we will soon forget his name. (Actually, I had to look up his name, because I didn’t even know what it was. I just knew him as “The Shooter.”) Did he realize what changes he would be the catalyst for? I don’t know, but I doubt it.
On the other hand, Taylor Marie Crabtree didn’t know what kind of changes she would cause either. At age 7, she decided to start her own business called “Taybear Company” and to paint and sell hair clips to local stores. She wanted to use the proceeds to buy teddy bears for children with cancer. Her goal was to give away 50 bears. She started out just selling a few clips, and then the media got word of it. People started donating supplies and money, and she began selling more and more clips and ended up with other children and some adults helping her. She is now 20 and has given over 30,000 bears away. This was all because a little girl decided to do something. (You can read more about her business at http://taybearhugs.org/.) Do you think that little girl knew the changes she could start? I doubt it.
I guess what made me start thinking about this was our church service yesterday. It was our congregation’s 40th anniversary. (That church is old enough to have birthed and raised….well, me!) One of the founding members spoke about how the congregation started.
Our church started with 36 people who decided to worship together. They had been travelling about 30 to 45 minutes one way to go to church. There was not a church of Christ in our town, so the families started meeting and decided to make it happen. Their first church service was held on January 7, 1973, and they had 54 attendees, including members and visitors.
The small congregation met in a school cafeteria for 3 years. They had no air conditioning. They held all the Bible classes in one big room, and they got to smell spoiled milk the entire time they were there. Yet, the persevered because they wanted to worship in their own community instead of having to drive a long distance.
Fast forward 40 years, and the results are amazing. The congregation now has a large, nice facility. Our church membership is about 400 to 450. While that is impressive, I’m not all that interested in the numbers. Instead, I am thrilled by the impact that the congregation makes in our community and even in the world.
The church visits the sick. They have a benevolence program that feeds and clothes needy people every Thursday night. They have a card ministry who sends cards to sick and hurting people all over the country. They have a teddy bear ministry that makes bears for children who have to go to the ER at our community hospital. The congregation has a quilting ministry that makes and gives away blankets. They have several small groups of women who do good deeds in secret for others. The church has established and supports a congregation in Honduras. They support missionaries around the world. They have a counseling program that offers free or low cost counseling to people from the community. The list just goes on and on.
All of these good things came from those 36 people who wanted to worship in their own community. Do you think they knew what would come of their actions? Probably not.
One thing that struck me was, as the member was speaking and was telling about people who had gone to church there but had since passed on, I never heard him tell how much money they made. He talked about the good things they had done. When he spoke of the first preacher there (who is now deceased), he got tears in his eyes. He didn’t announce that the man had left him $1000 in his will or bought him a new car. He talked about the joy that the man brought to others through his teaching and preaching. No one remembered the financial status of any of those people. They remembered their deeds.
I realized that as I sat there that my legacy to my kids is my deeds. I can leave them money, though, at this point, chances are not very good! If I do, the money will be spent on bills or cars or silly things. I can leave them belongings that will rot away, or I can leave them my deeds. My actions toward them and in front of them will affect who they become. My example has shaped and will continue shape their lives. If I am good and as righteous as I can be, that is the best gift I can give them. But, if I am evil and selfish and greedy, that will be something I give them as well. I really have no idea how much my actions will affect my children and the world around them. I could make big changes in the world just by raising my kids!
This leads me to ask if you know what will come of your actions. Since you can’t tell the future, you probably don’t know. You can do good or you can do bad, but either way, you’re going to do something! Have you thought about that? You are going to change the world around you, so what changes will you make? Let’s see what we can start. We can change the world!
You may give a kind smile to a stranger who is contemplating suicide. You might stop that action just through your smile. You may allow someone to get in front of you in traffic. That may keep the person from being in the right place at the wrong time for an accident. You may give a meal to a homeless person who is just minutes away from dehydration. You just don’t know. You may give an extra $10 tip to a server who needed exactly $10 more dollars to pay her electric bill this month. You may teach a child in Sunday school who will grow up to be a great preacher who affects the lives of tens of thousands of people.
Since we can’t tell how our actions will affect the world, we’d better be sure our actions are good. Do good deeds. Say nice things. Be kind and friendly. You’ll be glad you did, and so will the world around you. –Al