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One Solitary Life

Two weeks ago now, a man died. I had never met him personally. I had only met him in the pages of a book. I met him through a pastor of a small church in West Virginia. She took the time to not just talk about what was on Jesus’ heart, but to take the love Jesus gave her and spread it around like good fertilizer. She even took Jesus’ love to a place down by a river, a tent town. And she met this man, Noah.

In 1926, Dr James Allen Francis preached a sermon that included what we have come to know as an essay called “One Solitary Life.” I will post that here at the end. Dr Francis must have wanted his congregation to know the simplicity and the power of Jesus’ life here on earth. Maybe he wanted them to know that while they may not have a well-known or prosperous life by the world’s standards, in following Jesus’ example, their lives can also be a life of influence. Noah was such a man.

Take a moment and consider: Is your life influencing others? Does your life impact others? How do you know if it does?

Do not listen to any thoughts which might say you are not a president or leader of any group so you cannot possibly influence anyone outside your home. If you gave a friendly smile to the cashier at your local store, you have made a difference in that person’s life. And if you snarled at the cashier, you have also influenced a life – negatively!

Influence is a simple concept but it is an intentional action. It is waking up in the morning, beginning the day with a conscious intention to listen and watch for opportunities to open up which allows me to be an encouragement and a help in someone’s life. The ways in which I might be able to be a helping influence is as diverse as the helper. Whether I am known to the person or the influence comes anonymously, there will be a ripple-effect as the person receives a blessing and then may be led to pay-it-forward or to just face their everyday world with unexpected forgiveness or love. How exciting it is to see the ripples grow and grow, touching more people we do not know!

One Solitary Life
adapted from a sermon by Dr James Allen Francis, 1926
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty.
Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.
He never had a family or owned a home.
He never set foot inside a big city.
He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born.
He never wrote a book, or held an office.
He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness.
While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him.
His friends deserted Him.
He was turned over to His enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had – His coat.
When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever sailed, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this “One Solitary Life.”

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