I was listening to NPR this afternoon and heard a woman make the statement that, all we are, is our stories.’ What a truly encapsulating sentence regarding the human experience.
It is 66 degrees in Southern Illinois…on Groundhog Day. People are cycling and hiking and jogging as it feels like spring has sprung. The sky is an azure blue and all is right with the world. We love stories. If you think about it the most compelling orators…tell us a story. We christians are compelled to be followers of Christ due to the stories of his life that we read in the Bible.
From the moment of our birth to the moment of our death…our life story is being written. I remember my life from my, almost, infancy and can observe my time on Terra Firma and the connections that have happened in it… that connect the dots. I have always been fascinated by a ‘Horatio Alger’ story.
‘Horatio Alger Jr., an American writer of young adult novels about impoverished boys, and their rise from humble backgrounds to live lives of middle class security and comfort through hard work, determination, courage, and honesty. His writings were characterized by the ‘rags-to-riches’ narrative, which had a formative effect on the United States during the Gilded Age.’ Wikipedia
The story where the little gal or the little guy beats the system and achieves success beyond the class that they were born into, or confound the naysayers opinions of them by rising above the mean and hurtful circumstances that accosted them in their young and early years…is inspiring!
My friend, Jeff Lestz, is an example of a Horatio Alger story. I have know Jeff for 48 years. When I met him he was part of a hippie commune, off of the Royalton blacktop between Elkville and Royalton. The group contained many Jewish young people from Chicago. About 40 of these wonderful hippies came to our little church in Elkville. This was an earth shattering event for a non-denominational church of less than 100 congregants.
Jeff had lived as a homeless orphan in Chicago. His life as a teenager was more than shaky. He became a Christian, a Jew for Jesus, and turned his life around. As time went by, another of the Jewish hippies, Michael Toppel, became Jeff’s foster father, and provided a good home and mentoring for Jeff.
Today Jeff is the successful owner of his own business in the United Kingdom. I was privileged to visit one of his Opportunity Meetings that he held, near York, England, where the audience of 100 people were mesmerized by his story and the outreach that he extended to each of them, to better themselves.