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Doing Great Things

August 2014
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The Gospel of John

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Our Highest Priority

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Penetrating the Darkness

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Make a differenceWhat comes to mind when I ask what you would do if you could do one really great thing in life and there were no obstacles in your way to achieving it? I’ve heard beauty pageant contestants on TV answer that question with things like, “bring about world peace” but let’s get down to things that are more tangible. After all, we all can’t be President of the United States or come up with a cure for global warming, although some folks have gotten rich propagating the latter which I think to them might have been more important then finding a cure for global warming (which is about as tangible as bringing about world peace).

The issue, of course, is in how we define “great things.” In the several decades that I have been alive our society has changed in astounding ways, especially with the advent of technology. We can now live in a totally surreal world if we choose to do so; however, that world can warp our view of humanity and real life. Take the onslaught of porn, for example. Or the proliferation of violent images and movies where killing others is oftentimes viewed as a sport. Or the fact that technology had made spying on others way too easy for just about anyone who wants to do it. And trust is at an all time low now, too. Also, our world here in America has changed significantly since 9/11 when we learned a very hard fact that terrorism lives in the very midst of our culture and it’s not just on the other side of the world, but then it never was just on the other side of the world, either. That was an illusion we believed until 9/11 took it away. Now we just bury our heads in activities to try to ignore the whole issue.

With that in mind, now let me ask that same question again. What would you do if you could do one really great thing in life and there were no obstacles in your way to achieving it? Getting rid of terrorism, and porn, and violence, and spying would be good, but that’s not tangible. We really can’t change others. We can only change ourselves.

And even changing ourselves isn’t easy . . . .

The other evening I was in a Burger King eating an order of fries and playing around with my smartphone which I had only purchase a few weeks earlier (it is my first smartphone). There were not a lot of folks in the restaurant at the time I was there, and I got lost in what I was doing on my smartphone until a fellow walked up to me and started talking to me. I could tell from his appearance that he was homeless, and while I don’t recall what he actually said to me that caught my attention, he had a nice smile and seemed like a friendly sort of fellow. He was wearing all black and I told him he was wearing my favorite color as I wear mostly black myself–I’m under the illusion that it makes me look smaller as in the “not so fat” category. Of course, a diet would help but that’s a non-topic for a blog post I will never end up writing.

Back to the homeless fellow, in the course of our conversation he mentioned his dog who was outside of the building. I asked if I could see his dog and he said “sure.” So I went outside with him and he took me over to a cart (like a grocery cart) that was loaded full of the only possessions he had left in the world and behind the cart was his dog. The dog was very sweet. As I looked at his cart I realized how fortunate I was to at least have a spare bedroom to go to in a friend’s home. I’ve had a very hard time finding a place to live since losing my apartment at the end of March when new owners bought the house where it was located and raised my rent higher then I could afford to pay as a long-term unemployed person with no income.

His name is Tim, and I don’t recall his dog’s name. One of the things he asked me before we went outside to see his dog was if he could give me a hug. I said sure so we hugged each other. I can imagine he doesn’t get hugs very often, but then neither do I. He was a good hugger, too. When we were outside with his dog I asked him if he was hungry as I would buy him something to eat, so we went back inside and went to the counter. I told him to get whatever he wanted. He ordered a chicken sandwich, and I said he could get more if he wanted to. He said he’d like some onion rings but he seems a bit shy to ask for them. I said that was fine and asked him if he wanted a drink. He said no as he had something to drink already. I paid for the meal and since he walked with a cane, I picked up the meal and walked to a table where he wanted to sit. He continued talking for a while longer and he asked for another hug (he was standing by the table where I placed his food). So we hugged again. I handed him some money so he would have enough to buy some food for the next day and I asked him if his dog was hungry. He said no as he had some dry dog food for him.

He continued talking and I finally mentioned to him that I was afraid his meal was going to get cold if he didn’t eat it soon, but I understood why he kept talking. I imagine his life is quite lonely. I understand that loneliness, too, after spending five plus years unemployed. But at least I’m not homeless like he is. So I listened to him a while longer and then insisted that he eat the meal before it got cold. He asked for one final hug which we gave each other and then I left. As I was leaving I asked one of the employees if he came there often and she said yes. So I plan to turn again to see if I run into him and can buy him another meal.

Acts of kindnessDoing great things . . . it’s not in the “big” things that we think it is. It’s in the small, everyday things that we don’t often see or recognize. It’s in the way that we genuinely help others, especially those who cannot help themselves, like the homeless.

All we have to do is look around. We can talk about making a difference or we can actually make a difference. Opportunities are waiting if we don’t just pass them by or ignore them when they show up. We can’t help everyone who needs help, but we can help some, and in helping even one, we help change the world for the better for them and for us, one person at a time, even if only for a few moments. “Now” is all any of us have anyway.

It reminds of me a song I hear a lot on a local Christian radio station (Z88.3 FM) titled, The Words I Would Say sung by Sidewalk Prophets (see YouTube Video below). Here are the words to that song:

“The Words I Would Say”

It’s Three in the morning
and I’m still awake
so I picked up a pen and a page.
And I started writing
just what I’d say
if we were face to face

I’d tell you just what you mean to me
Tell you these simple truths

Be strong in the Lord and
never give up hope.
You’re gonna do great things
I already know
God’s got his hand on you so
don’t live life in fear
forgive and forget
but don’t forget why you’re here
Take your time and pray
These are the words I would say

Last time we spoke
you said you were hurting
and I felt your pain in my heart
I want you to know
that I keep on praying
Love will find you where you are

I know ’cause I’ve already been there
So just hear these simple truths

Be strong in the Lord and
never give up hope.
You’re gonna do great things
I already know
God’s got his hand on you so
don’t live life in fear
forgive and forget
but don’t forget why you’re here
Take your time and pray
These are the words I would say

From one simple life to another
I will say
Come find peace in the Father

Be strong in the Lord and
never give up hope.
You’re gonna do great things
I already know
God’s got his hand on you so
don’t live life in fear
forgive and forget
but don’t forget why you’re here

Take your time and pray
Thank God for each day
His love will find a way
These are the words I would say.

~Lyrics compliments of

So if you’re looking for something great to do, just look around. It may even come to you, like Tim, the homeless guy. You never know where an opportunity might come from or who you can help. And remember that God’s got his hand on you and we’re here to help each other, so be open and . . . 

Don’t live life in fear . . .

Forgive and forget . . .

But don’t forget why you’re here . . . .

YouTube Video: “The Words I Would Say” by Sidewalk Prophets:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here


1 Comment

  1. nhiemstra says:

    Reblogged this on Flotsam and Jetsam.


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