Back when I was a young mom; running here and there “being all things to all people” I had an encounter that left a profound impact on my heart. The encounter took place one Sunday morning in the church foyer between me and an elderly gentleman I highly respected. My children affectionately called him, “Papa Murray”.
Papa Murray was a man whose loving and gentle spirit shone through his eyes. You could hear his heart beating from across the room. He spoke with a smile. No matter what trials of his own he was facing, or what age or stage he was, when you asked him how he was he’d say, “I’m at the peak of life!” And everybody knew he believed it! Even at a ripe old age, with great-grandchildren of his own, he weekly volunteered to watch the children in the nursery to give us young moms a break so we could enjoy our Ladies Coffee Hour. Talk about being a blessing for the generations to come! He was one of those people who I wanted to be when I grew up.
So back to the church foyer; Our conversation went like this:
Papa Murray: Lisa, I don’t know how you young moms do all you do all you do with all the activities that have you running hither and yon.
Lisa: You raised six kids of your own, how did you do it?
Papa Murray: Things was different back then…the wife in the kitchen and me on the tractor. All I know is that God gave us our children to enjoy not endure!
There is no doubt in my mind that it was the Lord who met me in the foyer of the church that day. That simple conversation penetrated so quickly and acutely into the depths of my heart, I hardly knew what hit me. It not only changed my attitude toward parenting, it changed my perspective on life!
His words impacted my heart for eternity, in the most literal and meaningful way and took on a totally different meaning years later when I found myself at my 19-year-old son’s funeral. As I looked out into the crowd of the thousand plus people gathered in the high school gymnasium I spotted none other than Papa Murray. He had traveled several hours and multiple miles to make it to this sad occasion. I made up the distance between us as I ran across the crowded floor, wrapped my arms around his neck, and wept into his shirt sleeve. However, they were not tears of sadness; rather tears of gratitude. With tears streaming down my face, I emotionally recounted the conversation we shared fifteen years earlier—thanking him for stopping me in my tracks that fateful day—preventing me from what could have easily become a lifetime of regret.
The interesting thing is that while the conversation I shared with Papa Murray way back when, is one I’ll never forget, Papa Murray didn’t recall it at all! Nor could either of us could have foreseen the ripple effect of his words.
I share this heart treasured memory anytime I have the opportunity—especially with young moms. Not simply because of the impression Papa Murray’s words left on my heart. But because I believe the principle of his words is worthy of passing on to future generations. It’s one that I communicate with my oldest daughter who is now a young mother herself—in fact, as we speak, she’s just given birth to her third child; my first granddaughter. Given the geographical distance between us I find it hard to restrain myself. I can’t wait to get my hands on her and my two grandsons! To hold them in my arms and savour every blessed second I have to enjoy them. To embrace every single chance I get to speak of God’s faithfulness and goodness in my life. To speak life and hope and truth into the generations to come!
God has given us life to enjoy not endure! And life is too short to miss today!
We may never know the impact a brief conversation, a simple word of encouragement, or an impromptu exchange will make in the life another person. Who is someone you want to be when you grow up? Can you name someone who’s had a profound impact on your life? Perhaps you could be someone like that. How will you impact someone today? What do you want to pass on to future generations?
“…so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.” (Ps. 78:6)
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
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Contact Lisa at: firstname.lastname@example.org