Posts Tagged ‘pay it forward’

Toll 05192008 cdbToday, within my Lenten Devotional for 2015, I shared a poem I found on the Internet called Pennsylvania Turnpike by Shawn Self because he expresses so well a small but significant experience when someone paid it forward for him, just for him. We never know when a small gesture might change a life.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. [Matthew 5:38-42, NIV]

We can’t always know where the giving will lead. When Mike died, there was a stream of giving that I could not have fathomed. People with whom I rarely socialize, came out of the proverbial woodwork, and stepped into the chaos with their gifts of time, money, food, and even a mop and bucket to clean up the floor where Mike fell. Another group of people took my dogs into their homes and another set drove a total of eight hours in the middle of the night to pick me up and bring me home from New York. Another group wrapped their arms around my young adult children who never, ever imagined that would encounter death in this way. Each and every person paid it forward. To this day, my gratefulness is beyond measure. And the giving has not stopped in these ten weeks of sorrow. dog and horse

Every time we “pay” it forward by giving in the moment, for the moment, God is in it. Don’t hold back. This could be the day your action, like the rudder of a ship, turns a life around.

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Abraham pleaded for Sodom and Gomorrah, that God not destroy them if ten righteous people (those doing right), could be found. And God agreed. It only takes a few to save the many.

Genesis 18:32
Then he [Abraham] said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He [the Lord} answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

Jesus turned the world upside down with twelve disciples. These twelve were dedicated, who brought with them, their families and their neighbors and their friends. They touched lives and then those people touched lives. And today, we are the fruit of those twelve.

In the movie, Pay It Forward, a young boy, in response to a school assignment of coming up with direct action that could change the world, he devises a simple plan of helping three people with good deeds (things they could not do for themselves) and then challenge them to do the same. Exponentially, the impact would be as great as the disciples’ challenge, a charitable pyramid.

Sometimes, I see myself taking no action at all because I feel so insignificant in the face of our world’s despair. It is hard to remember the value of saving one, of helping one, of changing the course of a single life. It is indeed like the story of the boy throwing starfish back into the ocean one by one. An old man, who sees him, tells him how many will be lost and what difference could he possibly make, the beach was strewn with dying starfish. Yes, but the boy reminded him, he made a difference to that one, the one or few that he was able to throw back into the saving waters.

It is unlikely that I will be the next Billy Graham, speaking to thousands of a hope in the midst of despair, but I could be a friend to one more. I am not comfortable with people whose lives are a shambles. Their troubles are so overwhelming. I want to tell them how to fix it, to do this or that. But I have seen their inability to act. How do I befriend such a one?

It’s a trust issue I think. I have to earn trust and then, perhaps, there would be an opening for more than just a temporary fix. Jesus did not heal everyone, but he was present for them all. He did not feed everyone but he gave an example of how it could be done. He did not change the financial circumstances or status of individuals, but he gave them a better way of handling their situations. Except for the twelve, and the women who followed as well, those lives he changed forever.

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