Two deaths in recent days have captured my attention—one on the west coast and the second in the Midwest. Both have my mind racing with thoughtful consideration of the impact that one individual’s life can make in our world.
The first death was that of USN Master Chief (Ret) Joe Hutchins. In a blog on 11 November 2014, I wrote a few Veterans Day Thoughts about Joe Hutchins, whose military career was stellar, though almost entirely under the radar, since he served as a SEAL. [Click here, then scroll down to VETERANS DAY THOUGHTS, if you’d like to read it.]
Perhaps few people alive today, will ever know the impact that Joe’s life in the United States Navy made. However, I know that within the duration of 45 minutes, just sitting beside Joe on the couch in the lobby of his realty office on Palm Avenue in San Diego and chatting, deeply impacted my life.
Our conversation that day in July 2012 wasn’t about Joe and his accomplishments—it was about America and the principles that once made our nation great. That quiet man spoke softly and I listened intently to the words of an experienced and wise man. Thank you, Joe—for your service of stealth to our country and for a few minutes of your time as you made your way down the home-stretch of your journey in life.
The second death was that of forty-nine year old Scott Lewis. It was in the early 1970s when I met Scott, his late-father Bill, mother Jean, and older siblings Greg and Sherry when I served as an associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Washington, Michigan. While losing touch with Scott after leaving that ministry, I was reminded by his family each time I returned through the years that he had come to faith in Christ on Sunday evening when I preached a story-message on John 3:16.
That’s such a small detail, isn’t it?—except to Scott, his family, and now to me. You see, by the time Scott was old enough to be in the youth department, I had relocated and was ministering in another church and city. However, the results of one man, one message, and one Sunday service made an eternal difference for one pre-teen in that audience.
Yesterday, as my wife Debbie and I talked with the family and friends at the Wujek-Calcaterra Funeral Home, the most prominent topic in almost every conversation was about how Scott had come to faith in Jesus Christ after hearing that “John 3:16 sermon!” In those moments, I realized the profound comfort this family was experiencing because the lives of one young lad and one young man (at least I was young back in the 1970s!) intersected in a meaningful manner.
That begs the question—Whose life am I impacting today? Whose life are you impacting? Each of us impacts someone else … lots of them … along life’s journey. Some impact may be revealed to us in this life; all of it will be revealed in the next. Let’s make it count for God and for good!
BTW, do you pray? If so, would you pray for Pat Hutchins, Joe’s widow, and his family and friends as they grieve his death? Also, would you pray for the Lewis family? Although they find great comfort in knowing they will see Scott again because of their mutual faith in Christ, they still sorrow—especially his two daughters, Anna and Grace.
Finally, it would be fitting for each of us to pray for ourselves, asking our Heavenly Father to allow our lives to leave a positive influence on those we encounter each day. Since we have no assurance of another day, let’s make that impact today!