June 15, 2012

Just do it

Yesterday, after feeling sorry for myself for being so useless, I asked God, “What can I do?” How can one person make a difference in a world that is so indifferent, filled with people like me who think of themselves far more than necessary? Our selfishness is destroying our society and our world.
Today’s devotional reading asked the same question, “What can I do?” To answer it, the author pointed to two verses in Acts. The first is Jesus speaking to His disciples. The second is Paul using the words of Jesus to defend his work of evangelism to those who were “jealous” and contradicting him.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 13:47)
God’s answer to what I can do is always the same, “Obey Me.” His command and determination for my life (and the lives of all His people) is that I tell others about Jesus, and that He offers forgiveness and eternal life. 

In my egotism, no matter what I do toward this, I still feel like I am not doing enough and that changing the world will not happen because of me. Some days I wonder if I make any difference at all.

At that, God reminds me of another answer to this “what can I do” question. It is the story of a man who walked a beach where thousands of starfish had washed in with the tide. Seeing them stranded when the water receded, he began picking up one starfish at a time and throwing it far out into deep water.

Another man saw him and said, “What are you doing? There are so many. How can what you are doing make a difference?”

The first man reached down, picked another starfish, and as he threw it into the water he said, “It makes a difference to this one.”

Phillips Brooks answers my question with this, “You can furnish one Christian life. You can furnish a life so faithful to every duty, so ready for every service, so determined not to commit sin, that the great Christian church shall be the stronger for your living in it, and the problem of the world be answered, and a certain great peace come into this poor, perplexed phase of our humanity as it sees that new revelation of what Christianity is.”

Lofty thoughts. My heart protests that I am unworthy, but no sooner do the words form in my mind that the Holy Spirit whispers, “This is not about you.” He also reminds me that God can use and multiply five loaves and two fishes to feed a multitude. My part is offering what I have; size and significance are not an issue.

Our son was in elementary school when he began thinking of how the world could be affected by whether or not he stepped on a single bug on the sidewalk. He knew that a few insects begat more insects and that one less or one more would make a tremendous difference. We chuckled at this, but I now realize that I need to think more like that child. Besides, one person, doing what God asks, is a rare thing these days. Even if I make a difference to only one other person, then my efforts could have far-reaching, even eternal consequences.

Jesus, first help me keep my mind on You, not on my inadequacies. Also, do not let what I see around me become so overwhelming that I crawl into a distraction. May Your commands continually pop to the front so I clearly know what You want me to do — each day, hour, minute — and then just do it. Amen.

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