Friends in high placesMaybe you are struggling to discover how all the pieces of your life will fit together and create the masterpiece God desires. Maybe you wish for a friend in high places who could pull a few strings or help open a door. Listen to Psalm 138:8, “The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me.” (NIV)  Even though you may not understand it all now, if you will begin to fulfill God’s purposes and worship Him in all you do, God will fulfill His purpose in you, despite your present circumstances.

Over a hundred years ago (in the 1890’s), two young men were working their way through Stanford University. One was an orphan and had spent most of his boyhood in Newberg, Oregon (my hometown) living with relatives. Both were very poor and at one point their money was almost gone, so they decided to engage the great Polish pianist Ignace Jan Paderewski  (1860-1941) for a concert and use the profits for board and tuition.

Paderewski’s manager asked for a guarantee of $2,000, a fortune in those days. The students worked hard to promote the concert, but they came up $400 short. After the performance, they went to the musician, gave him all the money they had raised, and promised to pay the $400 as soon as they could.   It appeared that their college days were over.

“No, boys, that won’t do,” said the pianist. “Take out of this $1,600 all your expenses, and keep for each of you 10 percent of the balance for your work.   Let me have the rest.”

Years passed. At least one of the young men, the orphan, graduated from Stanford with a degree in engineering. His accomplishments in that field earned him both fame and fortune. During World War I he took on the task of getting food, shelter, and clothing to thousands of European civilians, a job for which he accepted no salary. After the United States entered the war, President Woodrow Wilson named him U.S. food administrator. Following the war, he was appointed chairman of the American Relief Administration to assist in the economic restoration of Europe.

Meanwhile, back in Poland the piano playing Paderewski also got involved in public service and was elected premier of Poland following World War I. But times were hard and thousands of his countrymen were starving. Only one man could help, the head of the American Relief Bureau. Paderewski’s appeal to him brought thousands of tons of food. Later he met the American statesman to thank him.[1]

“That’s all right,” replied Herbert Hoover. “Besides, you probably don’t remember, but you helped me once when I was a student in college.”[2]

herbert-hoover-j-paderewskiHerbert Hoover went on to become the 31st President of the United States in 1929. And his friendship with Paderewski continued. During the Great Depression, all the banks failed in Iowa City, Iowa near Hoover’s birthplace. As a favor to him, Paderewski played a benefit concert with Mrs. Hoover as hostess and nearly $12,000 was raised for the benefit of the residents of the small Iowa town. In 1938 Hoover paid a diplomatic visit to Geneva and miffed League of Nations officials by ignoring their new $10 million palace in favor of a private call on his aging friend, Ignace Jan Paderewski.[3]

Your choices to provide simple acts of kindness and courtesy may be part of the larger plan God has in fulfilling His purposes in your life. God may then orchestrate delightful surprises in response to those choices. “Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person.” (Proverbs 3:27 The Message) Your hand of kindness to a stranger in need might result in a friend for life. And you never know, that friend might someday become the leader a nation and return the favor. It’s good to have friends in high places.



[2]Quote from Encarta® 98 Desk Encyclopedia ©  1996-97 Microsoft Corporation.

[3]Smith, Richard Norton, An Uncommon Man:  The Triumph of Herbert Hoover.  New York:  Simon & Schuster, 1984, pp. 137, 252.

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