By Rev Paul Lyons
A few years ago I was told a true story that greatly influenced me. A retired bus driver unexpectedly met a colleague from his working days at a local shopping centre. They reminisced about their ‘days on the buses’ together. During ‘The Troubles’ there were times when driving buses at night around Belfast was dangerous. Yet the community was well served by these drivers who faithfully carried out their duties.
The colleagues chatted about the changes in their lives. One colleague reflected that life was not the same since his wife died. His friend empathised and asked what he now did with his days? He opened the carrier bag he was holding and showed his friend what was inside it. There was a child’s colouring book and pencils. The assumption was made that the book and pencils were for a grandchild. But the retired bus driver explained they were not for grandchildren but in fact for himself as he found the days long and to help fill the time he coloured in three or four pictures a day.
As I reflected on this story I was saddened that this man who had given the best years of his life to serving the community was now living such a lonely life. I asked myself what the community was doing for this widowed man? Surely, it is not right that when a widowed man gets up in the morning all he has to look forward to is colouring in a few pictures?
In the Christian life it is easy to talk. At times we do need to speak up and give clear guidance. There are also times when actions are what matter more than words. This is what John was saying to the church in 1 John 3v16,18: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. Dear friends, let us love with actions and in truth.”
In considering how you might meet the needs of others it might be perceived as a burden. Yet, Queen Elizabeth II said that of all the people she met across the years the most fulfilled and content were those who cared and worked for their community. A research report revealed that 93 per cent of people who devoted their time and effort to helping others found purpose and contentment in their life personally. A long time ago Luke revealed this truth too when he said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” Acts 20v35.
No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.