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Monday, February 28, 2011

Ripples

He wasn't much taller than me. I didn't know much about his past though the wrinkles in his face told a tale of many lessons learned over many years. Despite the large rims to his thick glasses, you could see the twinkle in his eyes every time he smiled. I couldn't tell you his age nor would I venture a guess. Such a thing would be disrespectful for a man who has accomplished so much in his life.

Our first meeting was over spaghetti after church. I was a young seminary student looking for a place to land while I lived in Texas. He was a retired doctor with a tremendous passion for God's kingdom and a special place in his heart for students like me. I knew the minute I met him that I liked him a lot.

We talked off and on over the months that I lived in Fort Worth. Even though I wound up attending another church, he would still recall my name when I made my infrequent visits back to his.

Near the end of my first semester, I found myself beyond broke. My parents weren't able to pay for all of my schooling and my part-time job was not enough to stop the "bleeding" of my funds. As those last few weeks were drawing to a conclusion, it was very apparent that, without help, I wouldn't be able to return. I wandered over to the financial aid office to make my appeal. The short answer was "No, this late in the semester there were no more funds available. Maybe I should try getting a job."

Needless to say, I was frustrated and down. I knew seminary was where God wanted me. I just didn't see how it was going to happen. The Director of Financial Aid excused me from his office saying he had a previous meeting that was about to start. I left, tears in my eyes. Not willing to give up, I plopped myself down on the couch right outside his door and began to pray. My plan was to petition God and wait for the door to open so I could start my pleading all over again.

I lifted my head from my prayers as the door to the waiting area opened. It was my friend, Dr. Howard. I was embarrassed for him to see me that way so I quickly dried my eyes and extended my hand in a friendly greeting. He saw right through me. After a few questions from him, I quickly relayed my predicament. He looked at me with that twinkle in his eye and said, "So you've prayed about this? You know this is where God wants you right now?" "Without a doubt I replied." This was his strange reply. "Then there is nothing else to worry about. Go on back to your room. God will take care of the rest."

I was dumbfounded but I followed Dr. Howard's suggestion. I had only been in my dorm room for about 5 minutes when the phone rang. It was the Director of Financial Aid. "Your tuition is taken care of for next semester. You can go ahead and enroll."

I was stunned. "Really? What happened? What changed in the last ten minutes?"

"You obviously have an important friend. Dr. Howard said your schooling would be taken care of. He's paid your bill and you are clear until Fall of next year. Congratulations."

Cool story. One I won't ever forget. Dr. Howard left a huge impact on me...and dozens of other students just like me. But I sometimes wonder, did Dr. Howard ever ask God, "What difference can I make? I'm just a doctor."

Because of one man's faithfulness, dozens of students became ministers and missionaries and teachers and church leaders. Those people, in turn, touched thousands of lives. One man chose not to ask "who me?" and instead asked "why not me?"

I challenge you to do the same. Find a way to take who you are and what you have and bless others. It may be a listening ear or a little bit of time or just a word of encouragement to "keep on moving." Who knows? But the ripples you create will extend over generations. The legacy you leave will be immeasurable.

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