I think we can all say there is someone in our lives who has profoundly impacted us for the good, whether a teacher, a pastor, a parent, a neighbor, etc. But what about the people we've never met? Is there someone who you could point to and say, yes, they made a difference in my life?
Recently, I stopped to think about those who have helped shape my faith and was intrigued by the folks who I've never even had a conversation with. I simply learned what I needed to learn from listening, watching, reading their writings, etc.
So, who would you choose for your top five? Does anyone stand out in your mind? If not, that's okay, but for me, here are the ones I would say made the biggest impact even though I never met them. They are in no certain order:
Billy Graham - I love this guy. I remember as a child being bored out of my mind when mom and dad would turn on his crusade shows. Yet, there was something comforting about his presence. He was a truth-talker and I liked that. He told us that we were sinners, but that God died for sinners just like me, and in the end, he would give an altar call and what seemed like thousands of people would get up out of their seat and make their way down to the front. That left a profound impact on this young girl, and I look forward to meeting him someday.
Janette Oke - This woman wrote a series of fictional books about a pioneering family and their sacrifices and faith. When I was a teenager, though I normally wouldn't pick up my Bible, I would pick up a book by Janette Oke, and she would pull me into her stories. It is there that I learned how much these characters relied on God to get them through. Those stories were the early building blocks of my faith and what it is today.
Adrian Rogers - I can't forget about this guy! I remember when I began to grow in my biblical knowledge and hunger after God's Word. I would sit for hours with my radio and listen to Adrian Rogers preach like heaven was coming today! I scrawled out so many notes on napkins, scraps of paper, the backs of envelopes, anything I could get my hands on. He had that quick wit but a huge knowledge of the Bible. I was simply mesmerized by his teaching and learned so much about God that I did not know. He mentored me in my faith for a number of years and did not even realize it. God love, Adrian Rogers!
Beth Moore - Though I realize this woman has become controversial over the years, her ability to teach the word in a way that not only grabbed (and kept) my attention, but also her deep knowledge of scripture laid the foundation of my love for teaching and digging into the Word. She brought it, and I soaked it up like a sponge. Though I have not listened to her in many years, she will forever be one who impacted me to get into my Bible and learn it for myself.
Lottie Moon - This little gal from the 1800s was fearless. She left her home, family, and a prospect for married life to travel across the world, and live and work in China. As a teacher, writer, and woman evangelist (gasp), she paved a foundation for the support of foreign missions. After giving much of her life in sacrificing for others, in 1912 at a mere 50 pounds, Lottie headed back to the states only to die of starvation en route. I studied about and admired this gal from an early age. She is pretty high on my list of women who did great things for God despite others' opinions of her and church/societal rules that said she could not or should not do the things she did. She just listened to what God told her to do. I like that.
There are probably many more I could add to this list, but for brevity sake, these are the ones who I automatically think of.
I'm sure it will be an interesting time when we all get to heaven and are able to converse with those we never met but who left indelible footprints on our spiritual lives. My prayer is that somehow, some way, I will have left a path of godly influence on others and will be on someone's list as well.
Until next time...