Yesterday I went to the funeral of a man who seemed to be friends with everybody in the whole world.
People got up and told story after story of how he had helped them, given them the last dollar in his pocket, met them for lunch, prayed with them in times of need, and always encouraged people wherever he would go.
The words used to describe him over and over were “grace, forgiveness, mercy.” People told of how they knew he was safe to confide any problem to, because he was so genuine and compassionate and never judgmental.
It was a powerful testimony to a life well lived. I know these things too, because this man, Jim Craddock, and his wife, Doris, have touched my life too.
In 1991, I suffered a severe depressive episode in which I lost 30 pounds in three weeks. I was crushed, broken in spirit and hopeless. A friend reached out to me and thought I should call Jim and Doris because they had a ministry that helped people. I had no money, no job, no health insurance, nothing but a dark despair crippling my life and threatening my very existence.
My friend called Jim. He told her their schedule was totally full, but then he asked if it was an emergency. It was. “Then tell her to come on in,” Jim said.
I did go in and through the compassion of Jim and Doris Craddock, I survived that depression and went on to get my master’s degree in counseling and be able to reach out to others through my own work. They saved my life in every way that a life can be saved. I'm so glad Jim didn't ask if I had insurance, could I pay, or tell my friend there was a waiting list.
As a new week unfolds, we will all have opportunities to offer compassion, encouragement and hope to countless people around us. They may be friends we know well or strangers in line at the convenience store. It is true what has been said: “Be kind to people, because everyone is fighting a hard battle.”
When the final word is said about our lives, chances are it won’t be about the “things” we gave to people materially. What others will remember about us is how we made them feel and how we treated people who could do absolutely nothing for us in return.
I am honored to call Jim and Doris Craddock my friends. I hope I can do for someone else what they have done for me.