Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.
My friend Army Chaplain Jim shared a heart-warming Thanksgiving story from his childhood. You never know when an selfless act of kindness might influence another human being for the rest of their life. It will make you think how you might be able change a life or perhaps how someone influenced yours.
One of my most memorable Thanksgivings was when I was in 5th grade on a rainy fall day in north Florida. My dad had disappeared– his binge-drinking alcoholism that he had hidden for I don’t know how many years, had in the months before Thanksgiving that year, become the guiding theme of my family’s life. The church had a community Thanksgiving dinner that day in its basement– probably because they knew the pastor’s family– my family– would be needing it with the pastor– my dad– disappeared, and God only knew where.
What was most memorable about that Thanksgiving was David, another 5th grader, who had quickly become my best friend in that town. He walked from his house to mine in the rain– probably about a mile or so– and the two of us walked together to the church through the rain with his new baby brother in the stroller he was pushing. That simple act of grace by another kid still brings tears to my eyes as I write about it 39 years later. David was enfleshing the presence and love of Christ for ME, in the midst of MY shattered world–not just for “somebody” who might need it, but for ME. That one incident of grace, of Jesus enfleshed for me in another kid, is one of the handfull of experiences in my life that immediately comes to mind when I think of what grace and what Thanksgiving is all about.
For all I know, maybe his parents put him up to it, I don’t know. He may not have even known how powerful his little walk in the rain was for me. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is a flesh and blood kid became the flesh and blood love of Jesus for me when I needed it most. David didn’t have any special training to be Jesus for me– other than having been brought up in the church by a loving, Christ-centered family.
I’m guessing the kids you have are flesh and blood kids too. I’m guessing they have friends too, and at any given time– even this Thanksgiving– some of those friends are as desperately in need of the flesh and blood love of Jesus as I was on that rainy Thanksgiving day. I’m guessing you have friends. Knowing just enough statistics to be dangerous, you can count on the fact that someone among YOUR friends and acquaintances is in need of the flesh and blood love of Jesus this Thanksgiving, just as much or more than I was 39 years ago this week.
A little paraphrase from an old show you probably don’t remember can be a reminder: “Who knows what suffering lurks in the hearts of men– Only the Spirit knows…”– But the Holy Spirit is also eager to use you and your kids– young and “untrained” as they may be– to be the flesh and blood love of Jesus today, this Thanksgiving, and each and every day. Are you willing and able to work miracles of grace with something as simple as a walk with a friend? Are your kids aware that, young as they are, they can make a difference for eternity in a friend’s life without even knowing it? Your welcome to share my story, or your own story this Thanksgiving, to remind them of God’s calling in THEIR lives too.
Thanks David– and keep being a blessing- Rev. Jim
Chaplain (Major) James R. Lewis
371st Sustainment Brigade
DSN: (318) 430-4106