As I edge toward closing the loop on 2012, I notice I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the impact others have had on my life. Some of the impact has not been good. Most of the examples I think of, however, are examples of how people have affected me in specific, positive ways.
I don't know about you, but I constantly ask myself if my life is meaningful to others. I do NOT mean from an attention seeking standpoint, or whether or not I'm getting the glory for this or that.
I mean does my life have a MEANINGFUL impact on the people I come in contact with.
Tonight, I was watching In Touch online, as is my habit every week, and they were having a special celebration of Dr. Charles Stanley's 80th birthday and 35 years of ministry at In Touch.
And that got me thinking about the ripple effect we have on others. I've been watching Dr. Stanley for somewhere around 24 years. In that time, God has spoken His word to me through Dr. Stanley's messages so often that I've lost count. So in that way alone, Dr. Stanley has impacted me. A few years ago, I had the honor of meeting him in person, very very briefly, but I was struck hard by the fact that the peace of God which surrounded him was palpable. You don't feel that often and so strikingly.
But how did Dr. Stanley come to have impact on my life?
Because my Aunt Granny introduced me to Dr. Stanley and In Touch all those years ago. And because she has always modeled a godly life. She talks the talk, walks the walk.
I think of other examples of how people have touched my life--Pastor Garey, who guided my first few years as a young Christian. The numerous people inside the church and out who've had an effect on me.
I also think about the fact that I have a terrific family. Terrific parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews--you name it. Sure, we have our problems, as every family does, but I've seen what passes for family in some of the people I meet and believe me I am blessed. There are those who are not as fortunate in this regard.
I think about these many wonderful blessings and it makes my eyes well up with gratitude to God.
But inevitably my thoughts turn inward. How will my life be a ripple effect for others? How will they see God through me? How will I impact their lives positively?
This life we live is crazy and sometimes it feels like it keeps getting crazier the older I get. I mess up. Do and say the wrong things. But I need to keep examining--keep evaluating--asking myself how I'm making a difference. Because otherwise, what am I here for?
The key to all of it is listening to God's direction for my life. Sometimes, I will know how I impacted others in a positive way. But there will be other times when I will have no idea in this lifetime what effect I have made on someone---perhaps helped them make a decision for God, or take a step closer in their walk toward Him.
It's not my task to keep score or keep track. But it is my task to be obedient to God and live life according to the plan He has for me. And to do that, I need to walk in close step with Him. That is my prayer for myself and for all of you as we enter 2013. That we all create ripples that impact the lives of others spiritually and positively, and that we give God the glory for all He has done.