Of all insignificant things in life, standing in line for a hot dog saved my soul one day. I was at the shore to refresh and relieve some stress by swimming and lying under the hot sun. It had been a seemingly long month watching my father have two heart attacks and go through open heart surgery. Nearly loosing him took a toll on my nerves and I went straight to the place where he and I used to visit occasionally so that I could reflect on the good times we shared together. I grew hungry and restless when I smelled the variety of concessions carried on the sea breeze and waited in a long line for some lunch.
Two older people, a man and a woman, were in front of me, and apparently they knew each other from years ago. While catching up on their lives, a mutual friend's name, Frank, was mentioned. The man shared the sad news that their beloved friend was dying. I could see tears in the woman's eyes as she recalled to her companion how this special friend nearly lost his job in helping her husband to find employment across the country. The man recalled how Frank never passed up an opportunity to help anyone and he shared his own experiences and memories of him. They chatted about so many wonderful things about Frank. He was not even gone yet, but both those people knew he would soon pass on, and stated very confidently that they would see him again later at home in Heaven 1.
With my dad being so close to death like their friend was, I was listening intently to what they were saying. It wasn't hard to recall some wonderful things my father did in his lifetime. He was very giving with his time, support, and he was always listening. The most memorable things were how both my parents cared for me during my early years as a child born without hip sockets, and visited me daily in the hospital I practically lived in for five years which was a whole state away from home. I'll never forget all the things they lovingly did for me and now it is my turn to take care of my dad while he is still here with me. He will be greatly missed by many people when he dies.
But what about me? What would people say about me when I am on my death bed? What have I done in my 22 years to deserve such a blessed epitaph and memorial? Did I do anything sacrificially to help people? By the time I finished my lunch, I was feeling pretty down and disgusted with my life. It was nothing but a series of reruns joyless days of work, studying, cleaning, bearing the arthritic pain in my hip, and very little fun. My math and chemistry classes were too hard and I was losing all hope in becoming the famous marine biologist I always dreamed of. The only joy in my life now was my husband who loved me and sometimes I honestly didn't know why because I had very few friends throughout my life, and a burdensome health problem. No one had every wanted to bother with a crippled kid and I had moved around too many times to made lasting friendships anyway. I felt I was just barely existing in this world and leaving it without any accomplishments or real purpose.
Through a series of months I looked into making changes, but I didn't know how to go about it. I could not change my life style as all I did everyday were essential things, but I knew there was more for me. I also wondered why I was born with so many problems, and I was tired of people noticing me only because of my limp. I recalled the peace of mind the people in line had about dying and wondered how they knew they would see Frank again after death. I could only hope to go to Heaven. I wanted to be free from fear of death, to know for certain what was after it, and to be remembered like Frank was for making a difference in other peoples' lives.
A friend told me many years prior about how Jesus saves. I remembered this and felt compelled to go to the Lord with my problems. After all, He made me and He was the only One who knew why I was here and where I was headed.2 Also, I wanted to know the reason for my health problems and why I felt so alone. I told the Lord I was sorry for brushing Him aside and asked Him to forgive me for all the bad things I ever did and for the anger I felt because of my handicap.3 I invited Him to show me, kind of lead me, in a direction that I could be the most useful to someone or something, even with my bad legs because I could not find that purpose by myself nothing I did seemed to changed my life. Cleansing tears poured from my eyes and I felt a warmth come over me as the Lord came into my life and relieved me of my many burdens.4 He promised in Hebrews 13:5, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you," and from that day forward I never felt alone again. I did not know what truly happened to me until a friend told me how I was a new person5 and I could actually look forward to Heaven.6
Eventually I began to like myself the way the Lord made me, limp and all. It didn't seem to matter anymore what other people thought of me I knew the Lord loved me. Even my marriage improved because I grew more confident of my self-worth and appreciated my husband's love and trusted him much more. Though the dreams of studying marine mammals beside Jacques Cousteau can only be a fond memory as I was not smart enough to do that, God has taken all my lonely nights spent writing journals and stories during my adolescent years and uses my skills for His good purposes. I have been called to do several projects for Him already. In the last two years I had the rewarding opportunity to lead five people, including my dad, to know the Lord personally and how great He is.
I am always amazed at God's awesome timing. He effectively uses my handicap as an opportunity for me to share my faith in Him and my anticipation of His approaching Kingdom for eternity with a
healed body7. My own legs ache almost daily but sometimes someone is around who asks about my limp and I love the opportunity to say how much I love the Lord regardless of a small disability and how He gets me through it. He's also blessed me with a perfectly healthy baby, who has recently become a Christian as well. Since then, a lot of things have changed in my life, not all good, and yet the Lord still continues to provide for us.
Thanks to those two people standing in line for being a witness and not even knowing it. Their friend, Frank, left behind such a legacy that it even affected me, a total stranger, enough to give my life to the Lord. I will see him and his friends someday in Paradise.
Take a look at your life. What will become of your name and legacy when you pass on?8 Where are you going? Good deeds are not the currency you need to get through the pearly gates;9 it is simply grace. Everything I tried to do didn't change my empty heart until I gave it to God to fill with His grace, love, strength, and power to do things His way.10 For those of you who are already Christians, how are you witnessing through words and deeds? Would you convince someone who is watching and listening to turn to Christ? What is the purpose for your life11? Now may be a good time to reevaluate your lifestyle.
My tombstone will say this:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2Timothy 4:7)
What will yours say?
1 1 John 5:13 2 Psalm 139:13-16 3 Luke 13:16 4 Ezekiel 36:26-27 5 2Corinthians 5:17 6 Philippians 3:20 7 Revelation 21:4 8 Revelation 14:13 9 Ephesians 2:8,9/Philippians 3:9/Jeremiah 17:5 10 Philippians 3:8-11 11 Romans 8:28