Summary: Our society teaches us that the more significant we are, the more impact we can have. Is that true? The reality is that our significance comes only through the Lord Jesus Christ.
To anyone who knows her, Joanne is not a significant person. Honestly, chances are, Joanne will never accomplish anything significant. In the town that she lives in, Joanne is never going to be someone who people in town will see as an important person. Joanne is the person the people in town would walk around to get ahead in life.
Joanne had no known relatives, she had no real friends and many stores in town would simply ask her to turn around and leave as soon as she walked through the door. Now, Joanne wasn’t homeless, she somehow acquired a small dilapidated house which she had completely furnished by hauling off stuff people left on the curb for the garbage men to pick up. (You know how you place an old T.V. or something by the curb and maybe someone will pass by and pick it up) - It was really quite impressive, a large T.V., a couch, a full dinning room set….how she got the refrigerator into her kitchen all by herself, I could never figure out as she couldn’t drive a car.
Joanne had dropped out of school somewhere around the sixth grade and had been in trouble ever since – even spending several years in jail, convicted of accessory to murder. On top of all this, Joanne had an unusual form of epilepsy and had seizures quite often. The state had provided her with a large black Labrador trained to help her with her epileptic seizures and they also provided her with a small subsidy to help her make ends meet. Joanne spent most of her day wandering around town with her black Labrador.
In this same town, I was an associate pastor in a church where a majority of the powerful people in town attended: Many of the physicians; The majority of the politicians; All the Bank presidents; A large number of the attorneys (yes, I know what you’re thinking, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing either); Almost everyone with a major business in town; Even the commander of the local military base was there front and center each Sunday; It seemed that if you were a person of any kind of importance, this was the church that you would attend. Every Sunday it was a gathering of the important and the powerful.
This is the church that Joanne decided that she was going to attend. To the shock of many of the folks at this church, every Sunday, she would walk in late during the first hymn and sit in the front pew with her dog laying at her feet. After service, she would hang out eating doughnuts and drinking large amounts of coffee, her dog in tow, every step of the way. Of course, all the children loved Joanne and her dog. Joanne would dole out doughnuts to the kids from the high counter, (this church kept the doughnuts up high so the kids would not eat them all) doughnuts that were reserved for the adults, and let the children pet her dog and feed him powdered doughnuts, he liked powdered doughnuts – quite the mess. I hate to admit it, but a few of the ladies repeatedly suggested that Joanne, “explore the possibility of attending another church”.
In spite of the frequent “suggestions”, Joanne just kept showing up, and one Sunday morning, Joanne, rose up in the middle of the service and walked forward to give her heart over to Jesus Christ. She had a powerful conversion experience and soon after, in spite of many objections, Joanne not only was accepted into membership at the church, but soon found herself on the board of deacons – who gave her the deacon tasks no one else wanted to do; They gave her things to do that they felt really didn’t matter, because they knew Joanne was going to mess things up anyway.
Soon enough, some of the ladies tried to have Joanne removed from the board of deacons – but they couldn’t. See, Joanne was now always at the church. She was always doing the things others ignored – AND Joanne had become good friends with the local Brain Surgeon, a very powerful man who put the kibosh on any plans to remove Joanne.
I left that church years ago, and of all the many wonderful people from that congregation, who do I remember with the most fondness? Joanne. She was the one who had the most impact upon my life during my time at that church. I found that in spite of my many flaws, my many mistakes and my lack of experience – It was Joanne who was the most gentle with me, the most generous, the most forgiving and the most kind – Now I can’t put a finger on exactly what she did, yet she was the one who had the greatest impact upon my life, far above all the other important and impressive people in the church.