Painting, Poking and Speaking

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

There’s a poignant story by O. Henry called “The Last Leaf.”  It involves a woman living in a New York City apartment.  It’s wintertime, and she has pneumonia.  She has already convinced herself that she will die and has lost the will to live.

She is bedridden, but from her window, this woman can see a tree in the alley.  She told people that when the last leaf falls from the tree, she will die.  Every day she looks at the status of the leaves.  Day after day, she notices that the last leaf doesn’t fall off.  In fact it never falls off – and she lives!

After recovering her health, the woman examines the leaf more carefully and discovers that an old worn-out artist, her friend and neighbor, had gone outside in the winter storms and painted the leaf on the wall just outside her window.  The artist had given of himself – he had given her hope and the will to live.

Most people today need hope.  The world we live in is bombarded by the negativism of social media, and many people have lost hope.  You don’t have to be an artist to offer hope.  You have to be willing to give of your time, your talent, and yourself.  You can paint a leaf for someone today.

One evening in 19th Century London, a small country boy was visiting family in the big city for the first time.  After supper he sat on the front steps and watched as the streets became dark and deserted.  He then saw a man, a lamp lighter, making his way up the street.  At each corner, the lamp lighter would pause at each lamp post, and there, to the amazement of the boy, a round globe of light would burst through the darkness.  The lad watched in awe and wonder as the man continued down the street leaving a glow of light at every corner.

Very excitedly, the boy ran inside and exclaimed, “Mommy, Mommy!  There’s a man outside poking holes in the darkness!”

When enough people stand up and poke holes in the darkness, light appears.  Jesus said, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).  He also said, “Let your light shine” (Matthew 5:16).  Today you can poke a hole in somebody’s darkness!

Rich Nowakowski is a diehard Green Bay Packers fan.  He lives in Hartland, Wisconsin.  Rich was left with impaired speech following a 2012 stroke.  He had every reason to feel sorry for himself, but instead has elected to be an encourager to others.  His speech changed from impaired to inspired!

He lives across the street from a building construction project for an apartment complex.  Every day he sits on his porch and cheers on the construction workers.  He enthusiastically says to every construction worker who passes by, “Beautiful!” and “Good job!”  The construction workers love walking by Rich’s house.

They decided to show their appreciation of Rich.  They pooled all their money and surprised Rich and his wife, Patricia, with tickets to a Packers game.  They even bought some team gear for him.  While Rich made a difference in their lives, Patricia said, “What those guys did made the world for him.”

What if everybody in the world was interested in making somebody’s life better?  You might do it by painting leaves, or poking holes, or speaking encouragement to people who pass by.  It will make a difference in their lives and yours.

Don’t use the excuse, “Someday I will do that.”  Let me remind you that some day is not a day of the week.  (Tweet this)

Make a difference today by painting, poking, or speaking!!


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