Every now and then, I hear a story that makes me smile and say, “I want to be like that!” Here’s one of my favorites.
A university professor was asked to speak at a military base one December, and a soldier named Ralph was sent to pick him up at the airport. After they had introduced themselves, they headed toward the baggage claim.
As they walked down the concourse, Ralph kept disappearing. Once he stopped to help an older woman whose suitcase had fallen open. Then he stopped to lift two toddlers up to where they could see Santa Claus. He paused again to give directions to someone who was lost. Each time he came back with a big smile on his face.
“Where did you learn to do that?” the professor asked.
“Do what?” Ralph said.
“Where did you learn to live like that? You have stopped to help three people with their problems, and to be honest, I didn’t even SEE them!”
“Oh,” Ralph said, “I learned that during the war, I guess.”
Then he told the professor about his tour of duty in Vietnam, about how he served with a mine detection unit whose job it was to clear territory of mines left by the Viet Cong. He spoke of how he had witnessed some of his buddies blown apart or maimed for life.
“I learned to live between the steps,” he said. “I never knew whether the next one would be my last, so I learned to get everything I could out of the moment between when I picked up my foot and when I put it back down again. Every step I took was a whole new world, and I guess I’ve just been that way ever since.”
The abundance of our lives is not determined by how long we live, but how well we live. Those who can say, “It is well with my soul” know what I mean. God created us for fellowship with Him, to enjoy Him and all He created between the steps, even when life deals us a bitter blow. The great hymn of faith, “It is Well With My Soul,” was written by Horatio Spafford in 1873 after Spafford learned that the ship that his wife and four young daughters were on had sunk in the Atlantic, and his daughters had perished. As he sailed from America to England to join his wife, and his ship arrived at the very spot where his daughters and 220 others had died at sea, he looked at the waters, and went to his cabin to pen these words:
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”