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  • Steven Skelley writes a weekly faith-based newspaper column called the FAITH FORUM for the Naples Sun Times newspaper in Southwest Florida.
  • Prior to that, it appeared for 2 yrs in the Marco Island Sun Times.
  • His FAITH FOCUS appeared in 6 cities' Hometown News newspapers on Florida's Atlantic Coast.
  • His columns have appeared in the Homosassa Beacon and Central Ridge Visitor newspapers.
  • His devotional columns currently also appear in FAITH & TENNIS MAGAZINE and the ezine.
  • Steven is a freelance writer for the Methodist News Service.
  • Steve has interviewed people like Hall Of Fame tennis player Jim Courier, French Open champion Michael Chang, multiple Emmy Award winning journalist Dr Russell Barber, and award winning musician Freddie Colloca.

The Gift Of A Good Example

by Steven Skelley

"The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble," said Blaise Pascal.

I just buried my big sister this week. It was just a few months ago that what she thought was a nasty cold was discovered to be cancer.
We buried her body right next to mom and grandma McWilliams on the hillside in an old, country cemetery in a small town in Ohio. Afterward I sat with my brother and sister and nieces and nephews and we went through old photo albums. I began to see the thread of the tapestry of the family and friends and influences that have affected me over the years.

Tennyson once said, "I am a part of all that I have met."

Morell said, "The first great gift we can bestow on others is a good example."

We are all affected by, and we all affect those around us. Sometimes this is a good thing. Sometimes it is not.

What kind of affect did I remember this week? I remembered that no one who spent any amount of time with my sister Sherry could miss that wonderful smile, that goofy sense of humor, that infectious laugh that made everyone else want to laugh also, and that love that she had that was able to look past her own pain and reach out to whoever she was with. There is something very special about someone who can do those things. How many times, even while lying in her hospital bed, did she remove that blasted oxygen mask, fight to catch a breath, and then share some hilarious joke, or an ornery grin, or motion one of us down for a kiss?

There is something very special about the kind of person who can face up to the most devastating circumstances that life can throw at them, circumstances that tempt them to quit, to shrivel up, to become bitter, to give up hope. Many people do give up. Some do not. Some shine from this darkness as examples of what we all should hope to be.

In John 13:15, Jesus said, "I have set for you an example. Do as I have done to you."

Hebrews 13:17 says "Remember those who spoke the word of God to you and consider their way of life and imitate their faith."

These Bible passages remind us of the influence we have on those around us. Jesus tells us to strive to be the same kind of loving, helpful, prideless, positive influence that He is. The Hebrews passage tells us to look for people who are good, think about what makes them different and then imitate their faith.

Pascal is right when he says that the entire ocean is affected by even a pebble thrown into it. We have the opportunity in our short time here on planet earth to be a positive influence on those around us, but it takes effort.

Watching my sister reaching out to console others while suffering unimaginably herself taught me more than reading many books could.

This past week, I saw some of the best and worst that people can be and it made me want to work to be a better person.

This next week, let's look at the examples that are everywhere around us. Let's consider the things that influence us and the influence we have on others. Let's imitate the good things and pass them on to someone who can pass them on to someone else. Let's be that pebble tossed into the ocean sending out ripples of goodness to who-knows-where.

This life is our one short chance to make a positive difference in our world.

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