“Ossie Davis was a big man, and kind; he taught Sunday School; he was gentle with children and courteous to strangers.” *
The world remembers him best as an actor, and he was a fine actor. He was also a playwright, who wrote and acted in Purlie Victorious. That’s how Alan Alda (Remember him as Hawkeye Pierce in “M*A*S*H”?) became friends with him. Alda recalls the moments when they connected not as actors on a stage but as human beings in real life. Alda wrote, “Those were the moments when his life came up against mine and made it better.” *
Have you had the privilege of knowing someone like that?
For Tim McCarver that person was Bob Gibson. In 1964 McCarver, a young white man from Tennessee, was a promising catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. Bob Gibson, a fiercely competitive pitcher from a poor part of Omaha, was destined to become one of the best right-handers of all time. But it was not Gibson as an athlete that impacted McCarver as much as it was Gibson as a human being that challenged McCarver to grow into a better person. Gibson, along with center fielder Curt Flood, confronted McCarver with his pre-conceived Southern ideas of who and what black people were. Because they saw something in McCarver worth redeeming, the boy from the South became a man who was more open and accepting. **
Who helped you to become a better person?
Who challenged your values?
Who encouraged you, by their example, to strive for higher standards?
Who, by their kindness, inspired you to be kind?
Who shaped your faith?
I have been blessed to know several individuals who touched my life and influenced my faith. Several of them were members of churches which I have served as a pastor.
There was a man in my first congregation who taught me what stewardship is. There was a man in my third church who showed me commitment. There was a wonderful lady in another congregation who for me illustrated humility and simple, trusting faith. From yet another woman, I learned how powerful and healing holding hands for just a moment can be.
The irony for me is that I was their pastor, but I am certain that they shaped my life and directed my faith more than I influenced theirs.
As you have been reading my latest literary effort, have you recalled an individual who, at some point, inspired, transformed, challenged, or loved you?
Can you be that person for another person?
Be Christ to someone!
“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:9 ESV)
*Both quotations are from Things I Overheard while Talking to Myself by Alan Alda.
** This account is from a book, October 1964 by Bob Broeg.