Queen Victoria of England asked Helen Keller a fascinating question many years ago when they met. The queen asked how she could have accomplished so much in her life even though she was both blind and deaf. Ms. Keller's reply may surprise you.
She replied, "If it had not been for Anne Sullivan, the name of Helen Keller would have remained unknown."
But Anne Sullivan, too, had her share of physical challenges. A childhood fever left her almost sightless. She spent years in a mental institution outside of Boston. She had behavioral problems, displayed by violent outbursts toward anyone who came near her. Her caregivers even concluded she was insane.
Just as Helen Keller had Anne Sullivan make a difference in her life, Anne Sullivan had someone who believed in her. In her case it was an elderly nurse who took a liking to this unfortunate girl with emotional problems. She showered her with kind words, patience and an attitude of love.
It made all the difference in Anne's life. She gradually responded to the kind nurse's gifts of food and her nurturing words of love and encouragement.
Anne responded and began to heal emotionally. Her bursts of anger became fewer and less violent. Then the day arrived when this violent and troubled girl was given wings of freedom to the outside world. The kind elderly nurse had transformed a life!
Anne Sullivan blossomed into a young woman with the burning desire to serve others. And it was a transformed Anne Sullivan who turned on the light for her student, Helen Keller, in her dark and dismal world.
Just as Anne Sullivan was shown love and compassion by the elderly nurse, she in turn passed on her love and compassion to Helen.
Becoming a Walking Sermon
These true stories are not only inspiring, they challenge us to live a life that makes a difference.
If you think about it, many individuals have made significant contributions in your life. Who are they?
Obviously, our parents often make the biggest difference in our lives. But others do too. Perhaps it is a mate, a sibling, a relative, a teacher or a member in God's Church. We owe all these people a big debt of gratitude.
But by far, God has made the biggest difference in our lives. It can be stated that God is in the "life-that-makes-a-difference" business. The Father and Jesus Christ desire every human being to be changed and to live forever in the Kingdom of God.
Jesus Christ lived a life that has made the most profound difference any life could make! He died for all of humanity in order for their individual sins to be forgiven. What if He had not shown immense love, and patience and forgiveness toward us? Our lives would not be changed. We would have no way out of our lives of sin and spiritual darkness.
And what about us? Are we trying to live a life that will make a difference in the lives of others? This is certainly a godly goal.
Living this kind of life is not about preaching to others or trying to control them. It is about living a godly life as an example to others.
Jesus Christ was a walking sermon to all in His presence. That is our challenge now—following in His footsteps.
Peter wrote about Christ's example in 1 Peter 2:21-23, "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 'Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth'; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously."
Jesus Christ taught that we need to live a life of good fruit, "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (John 15:8). We should not underestimate the impact positive acts make in the lives of others. We may never know in this age to what degree our example has inspired and encouraged others.
Mothers and fathers are setting an example for their children to follow. Children mimic what they see in their lives. Parents are passing on a legacy of God's way of life in action to their children. What a privilege God has given to you.
But we all are passing on a legacy of God's way of life, in some way, to others. It may be to family members, to coworkers, to neighbors or to even strangers. What an impact our lives can make in this regard.
Mary of Bethany
Mary of Bethany performed a good work upon Christ, who was about to be crucified, when she poured expensive, fragrant oil on His feet (Matthew 26:6-13).
Her example made a difference to Christ during the last few days of His life. She honored Him since such an anointing pictured a royal anointing appropriate for the Messiah. It also anticipated His soon coming burial. Jesus Christ said that Mary's act of selfless service would be memorialized for others to learn from.
Living a life that makes a difference is about living God's way of life—daily. It is asking God for help each day in being a godly example in all we do or say.
We are all shining lights in a very dark world, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). God sets us apart at baptism and with the giving of His Holy Spirit, our lives are changed, and He is in us. Thankfully our lives will never be the same. We are to live to God's glory each day of our lives.
As we follow God, our lives do make an impact on those around us. Others see our conduct, hear our words, make mental notes of our character and values, thereby coming away with impressions of who and what we are.
We desire to reflect the God who made us and called us to live a life that makes a difference—a godly difference. UN