Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Precious Influence

Broad pines creaked as their thick layers of bark trickled with rain water. Droplets fell from lofty branches. Each landed with a decided plunk onto the forest floor, carpeted with lush ferns, dead pine needles, and thriving moss on an occasional rotting tree stump.

I stepped lightly, my thoughts blending with the sound of each quiet "plink - pink - plink" of the gently falling rain. It was late spring and now the trees had blossomed and budded, confidently stating that winter was finally past and a new summer lay ahead for me to enjoy.

“In all of my thirteen years I have never felt so restless,” I thought. “I feel in the mood for something new – something different – and something more exciting than the daily household life that I’ve known for such a long time.” Even though my family did a variety of activities together and we had plenty of socialization, nothing would have been good enough for me at that point. Discontentment had been something that I struggled with in the past, and it was welling up again inside of me.

“I know better than to cherish thoughts of discontentment and discouragement.” A rustling to my right caught my attention as a plump grouse was startled and with a vigorous flapping of feathers, flew to a high pine branch.

Bringing myself back to my train of thought, I walked further down the path. With a sincere heart I prayed simply that God would give me the right spirit to be content no matter what. I longed for more friends - but the Lord had to teach me first that I would never be content without Him placed at the very center of my soul.

Nothing that friends or adventure can offer can take the place of His presence in the heart. Once I realized how precious He truly was, I would never look at life the same again. With this treasure, I could go forward with confidence in His almighty power.

God brought this change to me that He had promised in a beautiful way - through a role model. This person was a quiet young man with the humbleness that makes a person truly great. He defied the world's standard's set for young people in this day and age, and his life was testimony to his devotion to the Lord. I looked up to him and admired his steadfast faith yet more and more as time passed, until he became a hero.

We never talked or so much greeted each other when I saw him at church on highschool breaks. I could only look on and admire His love for Christ and yearn for that same experience in my life.

I sat in church one day, listening to him as he described his mission experience in India.

"In the midst of a strike, waiting on top of a bus for hours and hours - when you have no place to sleep, and all there is to do is to simply wait. As you walk through a steaming jungle, wet and tired and weak. Through it all, you can have peace, knowing that God wants you there. It's all ok - because that is the place where the Lord would have you."

"Am I in the place where God wants me to be?" I pondered. Deep down in my heart, I knew that I was - here in my home, here with my family. If Jesus was my treasure - if he was first and best in my heart, there would be no limit to what He could do through me. From the influence of a godly young person who had not the slightest idea that I had taken his words to heart, I was encouraged and strengthened, and I still haven’t forgotten his words. When I was tested and challenged, I wanted to bear everything with that same courage and fortitude. When I was given chances to witness, his dedication inspired my heart to give everything I possessed for Christ's service.

Don't ever underestimate your sphere of influence. You may never know how your life has touched others, but be sure that you will always have an influence. Whether it will be for good or for evil is determined by yourself. Your very presence - by how you carry yourself, dress, and act - is a representation to the world of your discipleship. One careless slip of your dedication to Christ could alter the course of other’s lives as well as your own.

They may never tell you that they are watching – but be sure that someone is. The whole world is looking on as God’s people are being prepared for the final test of discipleship. Each and every day you are touching other people’s hearts whether you realize it or not: and you never know how much your influence may mean to an unlikely person.