A Parable's Chain of Influence

Writer Author  G. David Nassief
Christian Article : Inspirational  - Fiction  No

Christian Author Writer As I reflect on the teachings in the New Testament, one of the things it brings to mind is the Saviors use of parables. The lessons the parables contain are so powerful and practical, their influence is as significant today as it was in the time of Christ.

My family and I recently had an experience that helped me better understand that truth. One evening during this past Christmas holiday, my wife Mary, our nine year old son Adam, and I went downtown to see a musical performance at an elegantly restored theatre. We were fortunate to find a nearby parking spot, and as we walked toward the theatre entrance, a man approached us. He was dressed in shabby clothes and it looked like he hadn't shaved or bathed in a several days, and he asked if we could spare some money.

My normal reaction would have been to just keep on walking, but with my wife there, I knew that wouldn't work. I took out my wallet out and gave him a dollar. He thanked us with a smile, and left.

Mary immediately starts looking in her purse. When I asked her what she was doing, she said she was looking for some more money to give him. I tried to discourage her, but soon realized that was a waist of time. Discovering she had no cash on her, she asked the lady collecting tickets at the theatre if there was an ATM in the area. It just so happened there was one outside the building next to the theatre. In no time, Mary had a five-dollar bill in her hand for the man, but now he was gone.

After scanning the area, Mary thought she spotted him about a block away from the theatre near a parking lot. She said, "I think it's him…Let's go see," and she was off. Again, I tried to dissuade her, saying it probably wasn't the same man and it could be dangerous trying to find him at night in the downtown area. In reality, the area was very well lit, and it was close to the theatre with people all around.

As we got closer, we could tell it was the same man, and it looked as though he had just been rejected by someone else he had requested money from. Mary went up to him and handed him the five dollar bill. She told him she didn't have the cash earlier, but wanted to give it to him. The man had a surprised look of gratitude on his face as he sincerely thanked Mary for the money. As he took the bill, we noticed for the first time that his hand was badly crippled. As the three of us turned and walked back to the theatre, I felt a quiet confirmation that what just happened was good.

As I think back on that experience, I realize my first inclination when I saw that man was to "pass by on the other side" as did the priest and Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan. But when my wife saw him she "had compassion" on him as did the Samaritan. Mary's example that special evening allowed my son and I to experience the lesson of that Parable, close up and in-person.

Shortly after that experience I realized the chain-like effect of this wonderful influence. Just as we were influenced by Mary's Good Samaritan example, Mary has been influenced over the years by the example of her father, Art Forson. He is one of the most generous, unselfish people I know. During Mary's youth, she had a dad who just naturally gave from his heart in many ways.

I realized this chain of influence extended even further back when Mary shared with me a document she recently discovered dealing with her family history in the 1800's. It stated that her Forson ancestors maintained a shack near their cottage for the use of the homeless, or those in need of temporary shelter.

Today, what's exciting for me is watching this chain of influence grow further. Not long ago, we were traveling home from a vacation when we stopped at a busy service station. Mary went inside while Adam stayed in the car and I pumped the gas. As I was filling the tank, a man approached me requesting money, and I reached into my pocket and gave him some. Just after he left I heard the back door of our car opened. Adam had some coins in his hand. "Dad look," he said. "I found these in the car. We could give them to him."

As I reflect back on that moment, I realize another link in the chain of influence is being formed, from ancestors to grandfather, to mother, and now to son. It also helped me understand that as we live the Savior's teachings, we are quietly doing his work.

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