Try each day to make a difference

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The crayons, notebooks, paper and hand sanitizers are neatly tucked into the backpacks waiting to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting new school year. Every last moment of the final few days of summer freedom are being drained dry. To the chagrin of many students and the joy of some parents, school is soon to be back in session. Bring on those pencils, bring on those books bring on those teachers and their dirty looks.

Recently I attended a funeral for a woman who had spent her professional career as a teacher. The visitation line that wrapped around the church building and out its doors showed that her classroom was not limited to the school building but extended into her students' kitchens and living rooms. Over the decades of teaching she invested her life in thousands of students. At the age of 70, she was Skyping over the Internet with students in Korea, helping them refine their master's thesis. After having a stroke, she took up painting with watercolors. When asked by her family why she wanted to go through the struggle of taking on new tasks, she replied with one simple reason "If I stop learning I'm already dead."

Acts 17 leads us into another classroom. It holds a conversation between a group philosophers in Athens and Paul the former persecutor of the church. In this conversation among many things Paul shares that the Lord has determined the boundaries and times of men so that they would seek him.

In other words, life is not a fatalistic experiment gone wild. That time is not a roller coaster in which we just try to hang on with white knuckles until we dock at the station. Rather, the Lord has placed us where we are, in the time in which we live and the short days we have to live for a purpose that brings him glory.

Some of us may wonder "Why here? Why now? Why this?" Couldn't there be an easier time and place to live; perhaps the beach?

You and I were created to make a difference with our lives where we are and when we are. Each day we breathe is another opportunity to reflect the image of our creator. No matter if we pick up a crayon, a shovel or a pen in the White House. You were made for a reason.

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at

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