The day before Thanksgiving, I saw an article about a “Turkey Operation” here in Austin, Texas. The organization was calling for volunteers to help serve and pack meals for those not fortunate enough to already be looking forward to that wonderful Thanksgiving dinner that I enjoy so much. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry jelly, peas and carrots, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie … and that’s just the beginning!
“It’s not fair! They’re getting more than we are.”
“Things are tough enough as it is. How come they’re being favored?”
“What’s the difference between us? Only our language!”
The beginning of a new year is such an interesting time. We often think back over our experiences of the past year as well as look ahead to what the new year will bring. It can be encouraging to see the challenges met, the victories won, the progress made, the commitments carried through, and the blessings we’ve had throughout the previous year. It’s also a time to assess areas where we had hoped we’d make headway but didn’t quite live up to our aspirations. Perhaps there’s something to learn from the hard times and difficulties—or even some outright failures—that we experienced.
You may not feel great or as if you have hero-like qualities of your own; even the apostle Paul lamented, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”1 Yet God can make more of us than we are, if we avail ourselves of the help of His Son, Jesus. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”2
I love to hear about heroes, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. Ever since an unknown Mesopotamian author thought up Gilgamesh’s quests, or Homer sang of Achilles’ war exploits and Ulysses’ odyssey to get home, people have been inspired and thrilled by the adventures, bravery, and wisdom of great champions. Others, such as composers, writers, philosophers, and so on, may have lived less adventurous lives, but their accomplishments set them apart as well.
“You are the salt of the earth.”—Matthew 5:13
As Christians, one of the things we strive for is to be agents of change in the lives of others and ultimately in society. That can mean making waves or going against the flow. Not everything Christians do and value will always be in harmony with the status quo.
Have you, like me, ever wondered what kind of an impression you make on people? Or more importantly, if you have any lasting impact on people’s lives?
Giving up some of the things we enjoy or desire can seem like a sacrifice, but when we get to heaven and see things in proper perspective, we’ll be ashamed that we didn’t make those little sacrifices more cheerfully.
I remember learning about the word “microcosm” when I was in fifth grade. As homework, our teacher handed each of us a 36-inch string and told us to make a circle on the ground. Then we were to look at everything within the circle, study it, and see what lived in our tiny world.
From then on I was fascinated with little worlds. I spent hours sitting in the grass creating environments for ants and little bugs. I made chairs out of leaves and gowns out of petals. I made tiny roads and houses out of twigs. But mostly I just watched.
Two thousand one hundred! Not a date but a number. Bono, the lead singer of rock band U2, known for his anti-poverty campaigns, notes that this is how many mentions of poverty there are in the Scriptures: “That’s a lot of airtime.”1 In the introduction to the Poverty and Justice Bible,2 the Bible Society adds, “A concern for the poor and an emphasis on just and fair behaviour flows through the Bible like a river. It underpins the laws of the Old Testament and resounds through the words of the prophets; it forms a core part of all that Jesus said and did and shapes the activities of those who followed him.”