The other day in the UK there was a memorial service in relation to the life of Sir Nicholas Winton. Who, you might say?
In 1938 he was a stockbroker in London. But hearing of the plight of Jewish refugees in Prague amid the spread of Nazi persecution, he went to see what he could do. Through effort, risk, determination and vision to help, he saw 699 children given safe passage out of the situation and able to live in the UK with families there.
Up until the late 1980s, what Nicholas Winton did was essentially forgotten – then his wife discovered an old scrapbook about it. He had never sought to bring attention to himself about what he did. He was still very unassuming about it right up to his death aged 106 in 2015.
Yet it is estimated that easily over 7000 people exist today due to his actions. Awesome!
One man, working behind the scenes, making a difference.
Often there can be much ‘noise’ about the need to have lives of influence and significance. In terms of careers for instance of getting to the top and being the shakers and movers.
Doing well in a career of course can be a good thing but is it always such? For instance, what if it means that family gets sacrificed along the way? (Parents in particular, an appeal – one of the best things you can give your kids is time! That is far better than a big house or money for all the latest gadgets)
What is true significance and influence? Nicholas Winton’s actions made a difference, but he did not seek to draw any attention to himself.
You might say that it is unlikely that you will ever do anything even like he did. Yet how about seeing the significance of being a spouse or a parent or an uncle or aunt?Being a son or daughter? Of making a difference somehow into the life of your colleagues, fellow students or neighbours by giving them time for example, showing an interest in their lives or doing something to help them. Or seeking to be the best you can be in your workplace for instance but not just for personal gain.
None of that might sound very dramatic but it is the stuff of leaving solid legacy in other people’s lives.
In one of the letters of the New Testament, Paul writes, “For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which he prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). What are those good works in each of our lives? That will vary – are we willing to take ‘time out’ and pray and reflect on what these might be?
I am writing this on a Sunday evening. This morning in the ICL service I spoke from the book of Ruth. This is set in Judah and Moab (basically think modern day southern Israel and parts of Jordan). It is set in a time that is quite chaotic and messy in relation to the whole nation of Judah. There are three main characters – Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. In the story there is famine, refugees, a triple bereavement and much challenge. There is also people ‘doing their thing’ with responsibility (and in Boaz’s case with generosity) amid the mundane stuff of life.
One step in this seemingly ordinary, though also ‘tough at times’ story, is that Boaz and Ruth marry. She becomes the great grandmother of David – the one who would become a renowned king if Israel. God was at work within the pain of Naomi’s life and the seeming insignificance to world events, of what took place in this story at that time in Bethlehem. But that just goes to show that God’s view of significant and what ours is do not always tie up : )
No coincidence of course that this took place in Bethlehem. Ultimately through David’s line, Jesus came – born in Bethlehem and set to be the One to show us all the way to God. Boaz and Ruth were forerunners in that line.
Don’t underestimate what the Lord can do in and through your life. He is the One who can do more than you can ask or imagine according to his power at work within you (check out Ephesians 3:20). It may not appear on the news or in a magazine; it may not be heralded on a company bulletin, but it will count where it really matters!