I’ve long known that I won’t be starting an orphanage or rewriting legislation or curing diseases with my life. I’d like to, but I won’t; I’m 36 and have pretty much set a direction for my life. But these things matter to me – why else would they come up first when asking this question? And so I realize that I still dream that I may someday welcome foster children, and I have met with my Senators (when I lived in NJ), and I’ve walked with people facing debilitating illness. In the classic example, I work to be more of a steady candle than a firework, and maybe my flame isn’t as big or bright, but it’s better than darkness.
But — I don’t want to sell myself short, either, and pretend like doing less is okay. I’ve heard from statehouse friends the difference that *one* testimony can make in local and state law. I imagine that once a person joins the foster care system, they learn enough to *challenge* the system when needed. I *can* make a difference. The tagline of the New Jersey Synod – part of the ECLA/Lutheran Church – speaks loud and clear: the job of each person, congregation, and organization is to “Change and Save Lives.” Hold that like a mirror up to your life. How have you changed and saved lives?
At first blush, you may say, “aw, shucks, I can’t do anything like that.” But maybe you’ve stood up to a bully, or offered your time at an animal shelter or school classroom or at a friend’s bedside. As a camp counsellor, I once had to walk over a live bee’s nest out on a wilderness trail to carry an epipen to a child who had just been stung. Would I have thought I could do something like that, or that I would be one to volunteer for that job? Nope, because I’m humble (I hope…) and not so creative in dreaming up differences that I can make. But that doesn’t mean my future – or your future – won’t hold life-changing or life-saving moments. Be prepared. Be a person that others know they can ask for help. God may be preparing you for something wild – or God may already be using you daily for the most domestic of miracles.
As a side note, often the resources we can best share aren’t hands-on service. I lent $50 to Kiva.org five years ago, and have funded microfinance loans to 7 different entrepreneurs around the world. The original $50 keeps getting paid back so I can re-loan it. I can go back and look at the stories of lives changed, of parents who can now educate their children, of groups that have bonded together to create more industry in poverty-stricken areas. Your money can make a difference. Don’t hide from that or think, “I don’t have enough.” If you can afford a meal at McDonald’s, you have enough money to share, whether it’s with Kiva or a local food pantry or Bread For The World. With your time/energy and with your shared monies, you can indeed Change and Save Lives, so that the world is a better place for your having lived in it. Take another look at the question above – use today to let it sink in!