It is said that we have only a brief time — minutes or even seconds — to make a good first impression.
That may be true, but it is also true that we are continually making impressions, positive or negative, that last for a long time, perhaps even a lifetime or longer.
In November, when we recognize Remembrance Day, our thoughts turn to memories or stories about the great world wars, during which hundreds of thousands of young men and women unselfishly put the needs of others ahead of their own.
I was too young to give active service in the Second World War, although my two eldest brothers did. But I remember vividly the ration books and the effect that they had on our large family. I was the youngest of six, and my mother's parents also lived with us.
With limits on the amount of sugar that could be purchased, ice cream was a scarce and valued treat. When some became available, it was always insufficient. My mother would serve the rest of us, but she never had any herself. She looked after others in her family in such an unselfish and caring manner that I mistakenly assumed that she didn't like ice cream.
After the war ended, I returned from school one hot afternoon and was totally shocked. My mother was eating a large quantity of ice cream, and she hadn't even taken the time to put it in a dish. She was eating it straight from the container!
While that impression of her unselfishness was over seven decades ago, it remains vividly with me to this day.
When I shared this impression with my daughter, she reminded me of a similar experience with her mother, my wife.
When my elder son obtained his driver's licence, we decided to take a family motor trip from our home in Toronto, Ontario, along the Trans-Canada Highway, to Mile Zero in Victoria, British Columbia.
After the first day's drive to Sudbury, the second day was to Thunder Bay. We stopped for lunch at Wawa, Ontario. Her mother suggested that I take the children with me and walk the few blocks to see the magnificent falls, while she remained and prepared lunch in the back of our station wagon.
We returned with rave reviews of the marvellous site, enjoyed lunch, and then continued with our drive. My wife didn't see the Wawa Falls, but never complained.
My daughter tells me that years later, the impression sank in that her mother was always doing things for others. As a young teenager, she had just assumed that that was normal.
As you and I continue to make impressions, the challenge is to consider whether the impressions that we make are positive or negative. Do our actions put others first?
Perhaps, the best instruction in this connection is what is sometimes considered the "inasmuch" teaching that Jesus gave us:
Matthew 25:40 – And the King will answer and say to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." (NKJV)
May we all be sensitive to the fact that we continually make impressions that last. May we strive to consider others first and make our impressions positive ones.
Prayer: Dear God, help us to follow the example of Jesus and put others ahead of ourselves. May we realize that we are making lasting impressions and that we must do so in Your love. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "O God Our Help In Ages Past" (Lyrics)