Can you tell me who won Super Bowl XL and who the MVP was? Can you tell me what the most popular movie was in 2015 and who were the lead actors? Can you tell me who our 33rd president was? Can you tell me who won the Daytona 500 in 2011? Unless you are a trivia genius and could compete well on Jeopardy, I doubt you can answer those questions. While these are people who have made great achievements and had their “moment in the sun,” unless you knew them personally, they probably had little impact on your life, and have long since been forgotten.
But, let me ask you a few more questions. Can you remember the names of any of your grade school teachers? Who was your favorite and why? What about in junior and senior high? Who were your principals and who were your favorite teachers and why? If you played sports, what coaches do you remember? If you grew up attending Sunday school, do you remember any of your teachers? Or, how about some of your youth leaders and pastors in the church where you grew up. I’m sure you remember the names of your best friends growing up and have lots of memories of those days with them. Do you remember the names of any of your neighbors? What did they mean to your family? How about co-workers? Can you name some of the people you have worked with and how they affected your life?
It is obvious that while we might try to remember the names of entertainers, sports heroes, presidents, etc. to do well on a trivia test, they aren’t the people who really impacted our lives. Rather, it is has been those with whom we have personal interaction: our teachers, youth leaders, pastors, coaches, neighbors, friends and people with whom we worked. They have all left “footprints” in our lives, as through our interaction with them we have become the person we are today. Probably not all our memories are good ones, however, regarding the people who have impacted our life, for people often fail us too and even sometimes turn against us. But, even those interactions affect who we are and what we have become. Some live with lots of anger and bitterness and carry a lot of baggage with them wherever they go because they have been burned or hurt by others they had trusted, making it hard to develop good relationships now.
I guess it all depends on the impact another Person has had on our life, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. If we have trusted Him for eternal life and are allowing His Word and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to conform us to the image of Christ (Ro. 8:29), then we are able to turn even the bad experiences into growth opportunities, for we are, through Christ, able to forgive and to love unconditionally. Then instead of holding anger and bitterness toward those who have hurt us, we have become more compassionate and forgiving… In other words, we are becoming more and more Christ-like. The Person that has the most impact on our life should, of course, be Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. The more we focus our life on Him and spend time in His Word, the more we are impacted in a positive way by our interactions with others—whether good of bad.
The Apostle Paul wrote often in his letters about those who had impacted his life, and he even includes a few who opposed him or forsook him in his time of need. But all of them made Paul the person of God that he was. In closing his letter to the church at Rome, for example, Paul mentions Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea, Prisca and Aquila, his “fellow workers in Christ Jesus,” “Epaenetus,,,the first convert to Christ from Asia.” hard-working Mary, “Adronicus and Junias,” his “kinsmen and fellow prisoners,” Ampliatus, and “Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ,” and about a dozen more! (Ro. 16:1-16). There were many others too, such as Timothy, Barnabas, Silas, Titus, etc. who had impacted Paul’s life. Obviously, Paul had established relationships with many who had “left their footprints” on his life, helping him to become the effective ambassador for Christ that he was. And he stopped often to thank God for them.
We should do the same. And we should let those people know, if they are still on this earth, the impact they had on our life. Also, we should consider how we are affecting the lives of the people around us. We are either encouraging them in their pursuit of a relationship with God or we are hindering them. Hopefully, each of us is having a positive impact on those with whom we “rub shoulders.” It will depend on whether or not we are walking with the Lord and being controlled by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Take a moment soon to let someone know how grateful you are for how they impacted your life.