The Path That Leads To Prosperity
by Robin Swoboda-Wagner

I'm taking a brief departure from my normal column this month to share with you something I came across while on the internet recently. The author is unknown but the moral of the story is powerful. It is simply titled, "Annie." (Author Unknown)

Dr. Frank Mayfield was touring Tewksbury Institute when, on his way out, he accidentally collided with an elderly floor maid.

To cover the awkward moment Dr. Mayfield started asking questions, "How long have you worked here?"

"I've worked here almost since the place opened," the maid replied.

"What can you tell me about the history of this place?" he asked.

"I don't think I can tell you anything, but I could show you something."

With that, she took his hand and led him down to the basement under the oldest section of the building. She pointed to one of what looked like small prison cells, their iron bars rusted with age, and said, "That's the cage where they used to keep Annie."

"Who's Annie?" the doctor asked.

"Annie was a young girl who was brought in here because she was incorrigible - which means nobody could do anything with her. She'd bite and scream and throw her food at people. The doctors and nurses couldn't even examine her or anything. I'd see them trying with her spitting and scratching at them. I was only a few years younger than her myself and I used to think, 'I sure would hate to be locked up in a cage like that.' I wanted to help her, but I didn't have any idea what I could do. I mean, if the doctors and nurses couldn't help her, what could someone like me do?

"I didn't know what else to do, so I just baked her some brownies one night after work. The next day I brought them in. I walked carefully to her cage and said, 'Annie I baked these brownies just for you. I'll put them right here on the floor and you can come and get them if you want.' Then I got out of there just as fast as I could because I was afraid she might throw them at me. But she didn't. She actually took the brownies and ate them.

"After that, she was just a little bit nicer to me when I was around. And sometimes I'd talk to her. Once, I even got her laughing. One of the nurses noticed this and she told the doctor. They asked me if I'd help them with Annie. I said I would if I could.

So that's how it came about that every time they wanted to see Annie or examine her, I went into the cage first and explained and calmed her down and held her hand. Which is how they discovered that Annie was almost blind."

After they'd been working with her for about a year - and it was tough sledding with Annie - the Perkins institute for the Blind opened its doors. They were able to help her and she went on to study and became a teacher herself.

Annie came back to the Tewksbury Institute to visit, and to see what she could do to help out. At first, the Director didn't say anything and then he thought about a letter he'd just received. A man had written to him about his daughter. She was absolutely unruly - almost like an animal.

He'd been told she was blind and deaf as well as 'deranged.' He was at his wit's end, but he didn't want to put her in an asylum. So he wrote here to ask if we knew of anyone-any teacher-who would come to his house and work with his daughter.

And that is how Annie Sullivan became the lifelong companion of Helen Keller.

When Helen Keller received the Nobel Prize, she was asked who had the greatest impact on her life and she said, "Annie Sullivan." But Annie said, "No Helen. The woman who had the greatest influence on both our lives was a floor maid at the Tewksbury Institute."

I can just hear Paul Harvey saying, "And now you know the REST of the story." But how many times do we fail to the know rest of the story of our own lives? I once heard someone say the richest place in the world is not diamond mines, oil fields or the U.S. Treasury. The richest place in the world is the cemetery where, lying among the buried bodies are the books and symphonies that were never written, inventions that were never invented and other dreams that were buried along with the dreamer.

Are you satisfied with the life you are living right now? Would it help you to know that you were created for a special purpose and only you could fulfill that purpose? What if I told you that the God and Creator of this universe is the One who not only created you, He chose you to fulfill His purpose?

When I was living as a captive to the ways of the world, it looked like I had everything going for me. I was a popular TV anchor woman, I owned my own home, had two cars, bought fur coats and jewelry and if my dry cleaning wasn't ready, I just went out and bought more clothes. I traveled in high profile circles and spent weekends in New York City, cruising Manhattan in limousines. I can't tell you how many nights I cried myself to sleep. The crying and the search for some thing to make me whole stopped in June of 1989 when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Almost 13 years later, I am no longer in the world of TV news. I quit over a year ago to begin to fulfill my real purpose. At the time I was sure I was quitting for my family, believing that time spent with my children was better than blue chip stocks. While that statement is most certainly true I know my real purpose is even bigger, for God has commanded me to go and tell of what He has done in my life.

If you want peace, true wealth and prosperity ask God to show you the way. Why? I'll let Him speak for Himself?..

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity." Jeremiah 29:11-14a.

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