A True 2017 Prodigal

A young man entered the worship service one Sunday morning. Even before I turned to see him, my peripheral vision told me he was someone I had not seen before. Yet he came in and sat down near the front on the opposite side from where I was sitting. His actions that morning were a little – different, but he was attentive and not intimidated. After the offering plate was passed and the plates placed on the communion table at the front, this young man stood up walked to the front and dropped something in.

I later would learn this young man’s grandparents had been stalwart members of this congregation for many years. This young man had spent many days with his Godly grandparents and many Sundays with them at this church. But in his late teens and early adult years, he had slipped away. His grandparents had passed on to the afterlife, and this young man had slipped further into the depth of this dark world and its temptations and pitfalls.

Yet, here he was on this particular Sunday morning, in church. The very church that meant so much to his grandparents. The church where they labored and served for more than fifty years. Several of those years bringing this young man along to learn of the goodness of God. As people in the congregation introduced themselves to him, they recognized who he was and joyously welcomed him with hugs and handshakes and stories of his grandparents.

This young man had just started a new job the same week and did not have any money to give yet. So, what did he place in the offering plates this morning? A man on the finance team at the church shared with me what the young man had placed in the offering plate. He had pulled two mission offering envelopes from the pew rack in front of him and wrote on them before standing and walking in front of everyone and dropping them in the offering plate. He was not trying to draw attention to himself, only giving what he had that morning, in the most sincere way he knew.

On each envelope were three lines: Amount $, Name, Church.

On each envelope he wrote the name of this church; on the Name line he wrote his grandmother’s name on one envelope and his grandfather’s name on the other. For the amount on each envelope he wrote “Everything”.

I don’t know about you, but to me this was priceless. Having returned from the darkside, this young man realizes where the good in life comes from. And he realizes to whom he owes a great debt for teaching him. He could not have waxed eloquent with speech and made a statement so clear.

His grandparents taught him by living in front of him a Godly life; teaching him, training him, and taking him to church to learn from others and to be around people who would welcome him with love and open arms when he returned years later.

Will anyone ever honor your life this way? Will even one person remember you in such a manner? Let me encourage you to live your life to influence not one, but many in a way that leads them to the Lord, Savior, and Creator of the universe.