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Reason enough

January 13, 2012

Lately I’ve been thinking about a story that you’ve probably read before.  It is a short ditty adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley, and it goes like this:

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, so he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

As if he hadn’t heard, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he turned, smiled and said, “I made a difference to that one!”

When I look at the world around me and see the mess, chaos, and suffering, it’s sometimes difficult to believe that I could make a difference.   It can be overwhelming to even think of trying.  Where does one start?  What does one do?  How much is enough?  I have to admit, I often feel very small in the face of the problems that surround me.

But then I realize that I’m looking at the wrong thing.  I’m looking at the size of the problem, and not the size of my God.  When I am empty-handed, He can send to me the kid who has five loaves of bread and two fishes, and then He can turn that into enough to feed five thousand men plus their wives and children, and still have twelve baskets full of leftovers (John 6:1-13).  I will be the first to admit that I am bad at math, but I’m pretty sure even a genius wouldn’t be able to tell you how Jesus could divide those humble offerings in a way that they multiplied into leftovers.  That is the math of a God who laughs at the SAT and answers to nobody’s red pen.

Sometimes it’s hard to think of tackling something that would only matter to the one.  But…what if I was the “one”?  What if you were?  If you were the last person alive in the rubble of an earthquake…if you were the last person alive clinging to a bit of debris in the middle of the ocean…if you had reached the point of giving up hope, thinking nobody would come for you because you are too small in the middle of a problem too big…how would you feel about being the one rescued?

I dare say it always matters to the one.  And it matters to the One.  He is, after all, the sort of person who would leave ninety-nine sheep to find the one that is lost.  The one matters to the One.

And if it matters to the One, then I want it to matter to me.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2012 9:46 pm

    thanks for the encouragement…….I needed that!

  2. January 13, 2012 9:57 pm

    I love that about God! Such an encouraging part of His character to be reminded of! Wish I was more like Him! Thanks for the encouraging words, Lisa!

  3. Amy permalink
    January 13, 2012 10:41 pm

    You always make me smile…I miss you so much!!

  4. January 14, 2012 6:57 am


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