Learning from the past helps us sometime shape our future. A friend told me a story earlier this week that brought this to life for me.
The friends who had gathered for celebration at the quaint English estate were having such a good time. Everyone was enjoying the grandeur of the beautiful beach setting. But suddenly, the peaceful setting turned into a tragic nightmare.
One of the children who was swimming in the ocean was now struggling to stay afloat. The other children who noticed his predicament were screaming out for help.
The gardener for the estate without hesitation, sprinted for the water. He soon was by the side of the struggling child. In a moment, he had the child secured under his arm and was towing him back to the shore, safe and sound.
The gardener and the gasping boy were met on shore by the boy's father. "What can I ever do to repay you for this act of kindness? Just name it, anything- and I will give it to you." The boy's father offered the hero gardener. Thinking silently for a moment, the gardener replied, "You need do nothing for me, for I have everything that I need. But I do have one request. My wife and I have dreamed of our son going to college. But it is impossible for him to go to school on my salary." "You need say no more, the grateful father interrupted. Your son will go to college. I will guarantee it."
The gardener's son was sent to college by his grateful patron. And he did very well in college.
The gardener's son's name was Alexander Fleming.
Dr. Alexander Fleming has given much to mankind- not only by being a fine doctor, but also by helping in the discovery and development of penicillin, an invention that has saved countless human lives.
Dr. Fleming also contributed in an indirect way to the history of freedom in our world. When Winston Churchill was gravely ill stricken with pneumonia, it was Dr. Alexander Fleming who was called to give assistance to the prime minister. It was through Dr. Fleming's care and with the aid of the penicillin that Fleming had developed that Winston Churchill was restored back to health to lead England as Prime Minister through the struggles of W.W.2.
Later, Winston Churchill would say these words of tribute about Dr. Alexander Fleming:
"Rarely has one man owed his life twice to the same person."
For the boy whom that gardener pulled out of the ocean's undertow was Winston Churchill himself. It was Churchill's parents who honored their word in sending the gardener's son to college and medical school.
The gardener's son, Alexander Fleming, then went on to aid in the development of penicillin and returned to help save the life of Winston Churchill a second time - this time from pneumonia.
There has been speculation on the historical accuracy of this story but whether true or false when I heard this story earlier this week it moved me to think 3 thoughts:
What happens in the future if I don't keep my promises?
Will how I interact and help others accomplish their dreams actually be part of God's plan for my or my families future?
Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:37-40 (NIV)