Seven seconds is all he had.
Seven seconds to speak truth.
Seven seconds to convince.
Seven seconds to speak a blessing.
His name is Samuel Chambers, a well-dressed man who stands on the corner of Washington and State Street. He speaks with a slightly gravelly voice, talking to thousands every day.
I met him while I was passing through Chicago this last fall. On the busy sidewalk he stood, confidently speaking into an amplified box, speaking truth. Speaking the message of salvation.
Born to Mississippi sharecroppers in 1938, he’s been preaching on the same corner for nearly 50 years. In nearly every condition — whether it’s zero degrees or 90 degrees — you’ll find Samuel Chambers out there on the sidewalk six days a week, preaching, teaching and encouraging. He takes Sundays off.
But here’s what amazed me. He only has seven seconds as people walk by. Some slow to hear the message. Most quicken their paces. But for most, he only has those seven seconds to make an impact.
He’s 80 years old. And he has no intention of stopping.
A few years ago a couple of street punks attacked him, pushing him to the ground and pouring water on his amplifiers.
This is what he told a television reporter the next day. He is ready to forgive.
What I love about Mr. Chambers is that he isn’t afraid to live a life of yes.
He’s no spring chicken. Still, he’s saying yes.
He’s been physically attacked several times. Still, he’s saying yes.
He’s been called every name in the book. Still, he says yes.
Too often I stand down from my convictions because they aren’t convenient. Or they aren’t comfortable to fulfill. Or they are unpopular.
Next time this happens. I’m going to think about Samuel Chambers, at 80 years old, using his influence seven seconds at a time.
Listen to my Living a Life of Yes Podcast where we talk to Mr. Chambers and hear other excerpts of his preaching.
(Podcast music courtesy the Sea Has Spoken)