I don’t know about you, but I have a constant battle that rages inside me for significance. I want to matter. I want to matter to God, to my wife, my kids, the people at church, my friends, my family, and even to perfect strangers. But sometimes (more than I like to admit) I catch myself going about the search for significance in the wrong ways. When I read this poem by Dr. James Allan Francis (1926) I am reminded that, sometimes, significance comes when we are being insignificant.
One Solitary Life — by Dr. James Allan Francis
Let us turn now to the story. A child is born in an obscure village. He is brought up in another obscure village. He works in a carpenter shop until he is thirty, and then for three brief years is an itinerant preacher, proclaiming a message and living a life.
He never writes a book.
He never holds an office.
He never raises an army.
He never has a family of his own.
He never owns a home.
He never goes to college.
He never travels two hundred miles from the place where he was born.
He gathers a little group of friends about him and teaches them his way of life. While still a young man, the tide of popular feeling turns against him. One denies him; another betrays him. He is turned over to his enemies. He goes through the mockery of a trial; he is nailed to a cross between two thieves, and when dead is laid in a borrowed grave by the kindness of a friend.
Those are the facts of his human life. He rises from the dead. Today we look back across nineteen hundred years and ask, What kind of trail has he left across the centuries? When we try to sum up his influence,
all the armies that ever marched,
all the parliaments that ever sat,
all the kings that ever reigned
are absolutely picayune in their influence on mankind compared with that of this one solitary life…
One Solitary Life: by Dr James Allan Francis in “The Real Jesus and Other Sermons” © 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia (pp 123-124 titled “Arise Sir Knight!”).