What’s your Shelf-life?

Recently, I woke up to find a photo of my girlhood friend on the front page of the newspaper along with a two-page article outlining her struggle to maintain the Late French Immersion program for future students in Ottawa.  She argued that the program would provide valuable access to new Canadians in the inner city who wanted to be bilingual, productive, employable citizens of this bilingual capital.  My friend could have thrown up her hands and not cared about the outcome of the pending decision — after all, it wasn’t going to affect her son who is elated to be in the current program.

I immediately telephoned my friend to congratulate her on her “15 minutes of fame” as they say, but we both knew that the legacy or “shelf-life” of the Board of Education’s decision will last for years and years. 

The next day, a fellow Parkdaler and I were discussing the “shelf-life” of a particular stewardship project.  I began to reflect on how seemingly little moments, little words of support, and contributions sometimes have a shelf-life of several decades.  You see, there is no expiry date on good deeds, kind words, and ministries that bring glory to God.

Picture a sweet, elderly lady leaving church who takes a moment to say good morning to a shy child after Sunday school.  The lady compliments the child on her drawing or the way her hair is so nicely braided.  No big deal for the lady, but this little moment is music to the ears of the child who hears few words of support at home.  Decades later, the grown-up child still remembers the sweet elderly lady and always makes sure to greet everyone with a cheerful “Good morning!”

There is another story of a young woman who visits a relative in a nearby hospital when he has heart surgery.  No big deal — she often walks in that neighbourhood and she might as well cheer him up with a quick visit and say a prayer for him.  He seems bewildered by her unexpected visit.  He runs into her a few years later at a family function.  Tears begin to fill his eyes as he tells her that she was the only relative who visited.

In the first instance, the elderly lady did not consider herself an expert in fellowship and, in the second case, the young woman barely knew the term “pastoral visit.”  They were simply two people of faith, two followers of Christ, trying to do their best at that particular moment under those particular circumstances.  They had no idea that someone would remember such a small detail so many years later, no idea that their words and actions would have such a long life.

What will be the shelf-life of your words, your decisions, and your contributions?

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Hennessy


Stewardship Group