Last night I had an unusual dream but I think there is a message in it for all of us. My dream was of people who were traveling back in time to try to stop a war in their present. But they had this problem. They were not able to change any major events. They could only make minor changes. At first, they were discouraged. If they cannot stop the dictator from being born, if they can’t directly kill him or stop meetings or anything they believe leads to the beginning of the war then what good can they possibly do? So they began doing what they could. They could only go back to the past for very brief moments of time. They weren’t there long. Just pop in long enough to contact someone and then poof…back to their present.
They discovered after a few of these trips to the past that even though all they did was talk to one insignificant person in their history that they saw changes in their present timeline. They discovered that even these small seemingly insignificant encounters were making positive effects in their present. So they continued.
Their plan was to just keep going back to the past as much as possible sending as many people as they could and making positive encounters with those in the past. They wanted to flood the past with positive in hopes that it would trickle through their history and avert the war that devastated their world.
I don’t know if their plan was successful. I woke up before I knew the answer but the idea of what they were doing left me with a lasting impression. How many of us get stuck in our past. Regretting it, hurt by it, allowing it to ruin our present? How many have suffered some trauma, drama or otherwise unpleasant aspects in our lives which tend to stay with us and affect our present and future? The obvious connection here is to make brief visits to our own past negatives and leave a little positive in its place until those negatives no longer affect our future.
But the feeling that I took away from this dream was…that little brief positive encounters in other people’s lives can have a profound and lasting effect on their present and future. They called these little jumps incidental positive incursions, IPIs and they all made it part of their lives jumping back in time whenever they could because they saw that each time there was an IPI in which they encountered someone in the past and no matter how briefly shared something pleasant with them that their present became less dark.
What if we made it our mission to have Incidental Positive Incurions with people? What if it was such a simple thing as smiling at someone, waving at someone as we drive, telling a stranger they look nice today. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation. It doesn’t have to take much of your time. The idea is these incursions are very brief but they must be positive in some way. Our world has far too much negative in it these days. What if each one of us who professes to be a Christian actually lived out our beliefs and more importantly interacted with the world around us in a positive way. Yes, even that jerk on the freeway who cuts you off and gives you the you’re number one sign, what if you smiled back at him instead of cursing him in your thoughts? I wonder how thousands or millions of people making it their mission to have brief positive interactions with every person they encounted in each day could or would change the world?
Sure we all are a little nicer at Christmas, wishing everyone a “Merry Christmas”. But I wonder how many of these Merry Christmas’s are actually said in a defiant way to let the world know that they will not silence our beliefs? Although we should fight for Christianity is that really how we want that phrase to come off? As some battle cry? Maybe it’s time we rethink our fighting strategy. This war on Christianity isn’t going to be won by fighting it will only be won by laying down everything we desire and giving to others as Christ did.
Let’s consider these encounters from our targets point of view. What if that person you smiled at today is spending their first Christmas alone after the death of a loved one or a divorce? What if that person you waved at on the road was considering ending their life this year because they are tired of living? What if that cashier who is not processing customers fast enough is struggling to put food on the table for her kids? What if every person you encounter during your normal day is miserable about something. What if YOU smiling, saying hi, even asking how they are doing, offering them a coupon or gift card, whatever you can do to make a positive impact on their day…is the ONLY positive influence in their life?
One thing I have discovered these years after my husband’s death is this…people do not want to be preached to. Sharing the gospel and telling people about Jesus, asking them if they are going to heaven, etc. It usually turns people off. But…when you encounter a stranger, when you share just a little something with them, a positive exchange, if you are living as a disciple of Christ, they will see something different in you and they will want to know what it is. When they have a desire to know why you can be so happy living in such a miserable world…then they will want to know why and how they can get what you have.
My hope and prayer is that you all go into the world having Incidental Positive Incursions everywhere you go!