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Saturday, April 24, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Acts 6

Each of us has defining moments in our lives that occur relatively early. One of my defining moments came during the fall of my senior year of high school.

The previous Spring I had been elected Student Body President of my high school. That meant I was responsible for helping organize the Homecoming festivities the following fall. There were many traditions associated with Homecoming. One of those was that there was a competition that was held between each of the four classes. The competition lasted all week – and each day of the week there was an individual “event”. At the end of the day on Friday, points from the events were tabulated and a winner was declared. That was the formal explanation of the tradition.

There was an informal tradition associated with the competition as well. That informal tradition was that the senior class ALWAYS won: even if it meant that the leaders had to cheat in order to rig the competition.

As of Thursday night that year, the junior and senior classes were running neck and neck in the competition. That meant the competition would be decided by a pyramid competition on Friday. The pyramid competition required 10 members of the class to build a pyramid. Whichever class did so in the least amount of time won.

The senior class went early and had a good time in terms of putting their pyramid together. The junior class went last. Their junior class’ advisor helped the juniors figure out that nothing in the rules indicated that the participants had to build the pyramid by getting down on their hands and knees (even though every other class had always interpreted the rules that way over the years). So when it came time for the juniors to go, they built their pyramid by simply laying on top of each other. Needless to say, they shattered the time of the senior class.

When the junior class finished their pyramid, the gym was going wild – thinking that history had been made and the senior class had been upset. Before the results could be announced, however, the judges had to meet and issue a final ruling. It would have been easy for me to disqualify the junior class and let the senior high class win. I didn’t, however. I stood up to the pressure and did the right thing. In the process, I became the first President to let my own senior class lose the homecoming week celebration.

There probably isn’t another person on the planet who remembers that moment nearly 25 years ago – but I do. It was an important lesson in my life about standing up for what is right: even when it is hard to do so.

This morning’s passage from Acts introduced us to another individual faced with difficult circumstances: the apostle Stephen. Of course, his situation was much more challenging than mine. Individuals who felt threatened by Stephen from the meeting place misrepresented his ministry – and put him in a position where he could be killed.

And how did Stephen respond to the pressure?

The closing words of the passage tell us he became a sort of angelic presence that manifested itself in the midst of the High Council. That description reminds us that when one does the right thing, we have the ability to be a vessel for something far greater than ourselves.

As I said at the outset of today’s entry, each of us has such moments in our lives when we can become that vessel for truth/God. Today, I would encourage you to do what I did : remember one such moment from you life. As you do so, may you draw strength from that moment so that it might prepare you for future moments when you have a chance to do the same thing.

Til next time…

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