The Power of a Sneeze

It’s that time of year.  My entire family has spread the coughing, sneezing, hacking stuff.  I’m in the midst of it, and with a workshop tomorrow I’m trying hard to get over it in order to keep from sounding like a hoarse horse when I speak. IMG_5390Thankfully, I’m better today.

Sneezes and coughs can travel further than you might think. shared the results of a recent study done at MIT, which has been considered a potentially groundbreaking discovery in helping identify the spread of germs.

“[The study] changes our current ideas of how far germs can spread in aerosols such as coughs or sneezes,” Mary B. Farone, Ph.D., associate professor of biology at Middle Tennessee State University, told “We used to think if we could see the spray, that was the limit of the dissemination, but this study shows that tiny particles, such as bacteria and viruses, can be spread much further on gas clouds.”

These gas clouds allow germs to spread beyond the air right in front of our faces.

“This changes our perception of what needs to be cleaned, especially if these clouds of microbes reach ventilation systems which can then spread the germs even further,” said Dr. Farone. “Because the germs can be carried through ventilation systems, make certain that filters in air vents are changed regularly and use filters that trap small particles like bacteria and viruses.”

So, now that you are fully grossed out and wondering if your sneeze could end up affecting someone on another continent…I want to flip this to a positive, spiritual thought.  God’s spirit is always at work, and we have no idea how God can use potentially insignificant acts of compassion–or words of kindness and boldness to impact people close by….and far, far away.  There are spiritual forces at work far beyond what we can see with our eyes, or really even imagine.  I have heard amazing stories of one person’s words, invitation to study the Bible, or an act of kindness having impact far beyond the initial action.  The Bible tells us to expect this.

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.
Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.  Ecclesiastes 11:5-6 (NLT)

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.
It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.   Isaiah 55:10-11 (NLT)

This morning I watched a video that moved my heart, and reminded me of the far reaching power of compassion.  It will be worth your while to take a look:

And this was a heroic effort to save physical lives.  Eternal life is of much greater significance.  God has given us eternal life—and words we say, or actions we do can have eternal impact if we keep on sharing and doing good.

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.   Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)

So, if you sneeze—please cover your mouth.

And if you do good—let it go and let God work.



Random Acts of Kindness

The young man with eyeglasses too big and mismatched socks under his sandals stood on the median of the busy road this afternoon.  I tried to assess his situation, as I eyed him a few car lengths ahead of me.  I felt sad that such a young man would need to beg on the street.  As I think back, he wasn’t actually begging.  He was simply holding a cardboard sign that said, “Kindness brings karma,” or something like that.

I was in the left hand turn lane and the light had just changed, giving me a green arrow.  Cars moved on ahead of me as I hurriedly scrounged around my purse for a bill of some kind.  I found a dollar, called him over and put it in his hand.  Quickly, before I even knew what was happening he looked at me, gave back the dollar and told me he wasn’t homeless—but thanks for being a kind person.  He stuffed something into my hand along with the dollar bill.  It was a ten dollar bill! On the back of the bill a note was taped that read, “Random Acts Revolution.” IMG_5100

That little event was certainly random and it made my day.  I put this ten dollar bill in my pocket so I could “show and tell” this story to everyone I spent time with today.  This young man’s actions got me thinking… Can a simple act of kindness really begin a revolution?  Our world certainly needs a kindness revolution.  That is not what I usually experience on a typical day in traffic. Certainly, a kindness revolution has to start somewhere.   Why not with a ten dollar bill?  I’ve heard of numerous people purposely doing random acts of kindness and have always been inspired by their deeds—I’ve just never been “all in.”

I began to feel giddy as I thought of ways I could “invest” this ten dollars by “paying it forward.”  I’ve never actually taken a day to specifically focus on “random acts of kindness.”  However, this one young man’s action inspired me to do just that tomorrow.   I could pay for some someone’s groceries, a meal, some coffees, a haircut (yes I’d have to add to the bill.) I will pray about the opportunities and hope the recipients will be likewise inspired to “pay it forward.” IMG_5098

This is not a new idea.  Jesus taught this concept many years ago.  The scriptures are numerous that teach these truths.  One truth is that Jesus went about doing good, and so we will do the same as we follow him.  Secondly, whatever we give because of what we have been given by God—we will be blessed.  We can never outgive God.  Consider these verses:

You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached– how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.  Acts 10:36-38  

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”    Luke 6:38  

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”    Acts 20:35

I’ll let you know how the day goes, but I’m confident that God will be happy about this plan, and I will be too. If you are so inclined, consider a random act of kindness you could practice today—and do it!  Let Jesus’ example and teaching be your direction and inspiration, praying for opportunities to let others know he is the reason we even know how to give.

As you practice a random act of kindness, feel free to post a comment about the experience.