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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by William A. Kolb

Thursday, October 14

You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.
—Matthew 5:13a, 14a

The 1960s were truly a time of social revolution. Chaos swirled throughout our culture, even as some needed changes were born. Many of our institutions and traditions were called into question—a very unsettling process for numerous Americans. But there were also many who saw this time as an opportunity to be a leader in a new age.

Such was the story of Ron Hansen, a young man in his 20s who wanted to see his country come out of those times a better place for all. Because of flat feet he was classified “4F” and could not volunteer for service in Vietnam. 

So he turned his attention to making the most he could of himself. With no college degree, he went to school at night while he worked his office job during the day, and his loving but overwhelmed wife stayed home to take care of their five children.

By 1972 he had his undergraduate degree and went on to get his master’s in social work. From there he and his family moved to Chicago, where he became a legendary founder of many shelter, soup kitchen and education programs that today form the backbone of services for the lost and the least in that city, including the homeless population. 

When asked in a radio interview in 2003, on the occasion of his retirement, what had motivated him to do so much for so many, he said, “We are put here with a reason and some gifts to carry out that purpose. I wanted to make the most of what I had been given, and I wanted to see this planet a little bit better place when I die than it was when I got here.”

We all have gifts. We are each the salt of the earth and the light of the world. God created us, and if we want to know the purpose for our lives, it can be figured out as we realize what our natural gifts are. 

God loves us whether we seek purpose or not, whether we figure out our gifts or not. He adores us because we are his precious children. We are salt and light whether we strive to use all our gifts or not, but they are there for us, given especially for us, if we want to use them.

Heavenly Father, help me to want to be what you want me to be; help me to live more and more in your light and love. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.