How much of what we do influences others? I often wonder about the long-term consequences of our actions, especially in terms of our Christian witness and walk with God. C. F Stanley said “Consider the life of the Apostle Paul: What do you think went through his mind as he sat in a Roman jail? Do you think Paul knew that the letters he wrote from that place would continue to transform peoples lives 2000 years later? God knew what the Apostle Paul would never have imagined or anticipated. There is no way to know how many people your life will influence.”
As a parent, this struck me as a very direct message from the Lord. The way in which we bring up our children and live our lives before them, will undoubtedly have an effect on how they will raise their children, and their children after that, and so on for countless generations. Wouldn’t it be amazing to go to Heaven and meet lots of further generations of your family!
The example of the apostle Paul also reminded me that the reason we are still reading those letters today is because God had his hand upon Paul’s situation and he knew those letters would be part of the bible. So shouldn’t we be even more anxious to be in the centre of God’s will so that his unseen plan for our lives can develop and continue to influence others, even after our death? Surely if we are living our lives in accordance with our own selfish plans and purposes, then God would see no profit in using us as an example for other people to learn from.
I was listening to an interesting podcast today which made the point that although we go through tough times in our lives, sometimes God lets us go through the storm, rather than rescuing us from the middle of it. There are a number of reasons as to why this happens but one which I found very thought provoking was that sometimes we suffer because eventually other people can benefit from it. Again take the example Paul, I’m sure sitting in a prison cell was the last place he wanted to be, but God used that situation as part of a bigger plan.
If Paul hadn’t gone through that storm, the bible wouldn’t contain those letters. In the same way, the storms of life that we go through, can almost certainly be used in shaping our spiritual character and eventually will influence us in the way we teach and instruct our children. Storms remind us of our dependence on God, without them we would be self-sufficient and so never feel the need to teach our children to read and pray and go to church and lead Godly lives. A humble heart, mind and spirit will always admit their need of the Lord and will have an intimate relationship with him. This example will hopefully be carried on for generations in our family, and I look forward to an amazing reunion in Heaven!
Matthew 21 v 13 “My house shall be called the house of prayer” (Forgive me for taking this verse a little out of context, but it signifies the whole point of what I’m trying to say).