by Howard and Jeanne Tomlinson


The Impact of Example

“Does my life make a difference?  Does anyone ever notice?” You may be uncertain about your impact on others, especially if you’re sick, disabled, or elderly.  You may feel that your time of usefulness is over.  But you never know who may be watching.

Before Howie started attending Denton Bible Church, he met someone at North Texas State who made him feel uncomfortable.  It was 1978, when he played in the lab band during summer.  Paul, a fellow band member, frequently talked about Jesus Christ and was the kind of person who “walked his talk.”  Howie liked Paul but felt like a hypocrite around him.  He could see by Paul’s example that something was wrong with his own spiritual life.
    Ironically, after his accident in 1981, Howie became Paul’s roommate.  He no longer felt uncomfortable and their friendship deepened as Howie grew spiritually.  He often asked him, “Where are you going?” and Paul would answer, “to lunch.”  Howie called out, “Hold on, I’m coming too.”  They loved discussing the Word of God together.  Paul was an example to Howie of faithfulness and consistency.  For years, Howie continued to ask him for advice on spiritual matters, even though eventually they lived 2,000 miles apart.
    Another friend from Denton Bible proved to be a different kind of example.  Pastor Mel told a group of men one day about Kevan, a young man who had been recently diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Howie was shocked and wondered, “How could anyone handle a brain tumor?”
    Howie soon met Kevan, in remission at the time, who demonstrated a strong faith in the Lord while going through adversity.  Needing a home until his wedding six months later, Kevan moved in with Paul and Howie.  They shared musical interests and loved to kid around together.
    In 1982, Kevan married his sweetheart, Jean, a pretty Texan who also attended Denton Bible.  Within half a year, the newlyweds were devastated to learn that Kevan’s brain tumor had returned.  When Pastor Mel announced it at church, Howie broke down and cried.  Even with surgery and other treatments, Kevan continued to decline and died in 1985 at the age of 28.  He left behind a loving wife and family and many friends.  Two years later, his widow Jean married Kevan’s former roommate Paul.
    What impacted Howie most about Kevan was the fact that he never complained, even when he knew he was dying.  He walked closely with God, patiently enduring the pain and suffering.  His example helped Howie face his own neurological problems from the accident with courage.  But only God knew the resulting impact Kevan’s life would have on Howie years later.

John Donne said, “No man is an island.”  We should never underestimate the impact we can have on others.  Our walk with God may influence the direction of a friend’s life.  And handling adversity bravely can encourage (“infuse courage”) others to take heart.  People may imitate us if they see we are consistent and faithful.  The Bible says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

(song by Jeanne Tomlinson)

May Christ be seen in me —
His love and His purity.
I want the world my Lord to see;
May Christ be seen in me.

For Those Who Hurt

You may be wondering if your life has any value or if people care.  You can have a tremendous impact on others for good if you walk with God and face your hardships with courage.  Read the Bible and follow the Lord.  “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1).  Follow the example of others who love the Lord, including Biblical heroes.  Paul said, “I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me” (I Corinthians 4:16).  Let the way they live and handle adversity with courage be your inspiration to say, “I can do it, too!”  Remember this – courage is contagious!  If you endure the storms of life with patience, God may use you to be someone else’s inspiration!



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Chapter 2: An Abrupt Change of Plans Table of Contents Chapter 4: Meeting That Special Someone