Friday, September 9, 2011

Making a Difference

"It was just 10 minutes of my life, but I hope it made a difference."
-- Kathy Poiry --

Photo by Caroline Henri

Poiry was approaching a railroad crossing when a 17-year-old fell under the train and severed both legs. A nurse, Poiry partnered with Nicole Crowley at the scene to calm the injured one, call paramedics,  and administer first aid until they came. The two are believed to have saved the young woman's life.

Poiry's story is one of life and death, and it holds significance because life is precious. It is an attractive story. It calls me to courage and hope, reminding me that "ordinary" people can make a difference, that we can do great things in the midst of "ordinary" life.

At the same time, I am reminded of something I heard recently from Andy Stanley about "Bible heroes" who made courageous choices that were tipping points at which the course of history changed. Stanley lists people like Abraham leaving home to follow God, Moses returning to Egypt to face down Pharaoh, Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan River against apparent odds, Joseph forgiving his brothers, David facing Goliath, and Gideon reducing his army to attack the Midianites.

As Stanley points out, these stories are just so big, and things in our lives just tend not to be that dramatic. Most of us are not kings or generals. Most of us will not lead an entire people group out of slavery, command an army in battle, or even save the life of someone run over by a train nearby. Most of our names won't even be known beyond our relatively small circles.

Most of our stories are not dramatic or well-known, but there are certainly circumstances we face in which the world may be changed in a significant way. The occasional "big" stories tend to get the press, but courage and character are at least as necessary in the many "little" ones as we live out our values and convictions in so many decisions throughout everyday life.

When I think of what Kathy Poiry said -- "It was just 10 minutes of my life, but I hope it made a difference" -- I have a few stories of my own in which somebody acted to protect me from serious physical harm. I have many more stories of people who, sometimes even in just a single interaction, have made a significant difference in my life -- often through a meaningful conversation or a simple act of kindness.

Reading Poiry's story reminds me of those, and calls me to courage and hope. There is no such thing as an "ordinary" person, or an "ordinary" day. Each holds potential for something great.

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