Writer Loren Eisley wrote in his book “The Star Thrower,” this oft-quoted story:
Once, on ancient Earth, there was a human boy walking along a beach. There had just been a storm, and many starfish had been scattered along the sands. The boy knew the fish would die, so he began to fling them back to the sea. But every time he threw a starfish, another would wash ashore. An old Earth man happened along and saw what the child was doing. He called out, “Boy, what are you doing?” “Saving the starfish!” replied the boy. “But your attempts are useless, child! Every time you save one, another one returns! You can’t save them all, so why bother trying? Why does it matter, anyway?” called the old man. The boy thought about this for a while, a starfish in his hand; he answered, “Well, it matters to this one.” And then he flung the starfish back into the welcoming sea.
Do you ever feel like that there are a trillion things to do in the world, worthy causes and inspiring missions, people to help, problems to solve? I do. It’s been weighing on me pretty heavily lately. How can little old me make even the smallest dent in this great big world’s problems? Poverty, disease, addiction, abuse, homelessness, abortion, sin… How can I even begin to make a difference when there are so many people running to disaster, sometimes with their eager arms wide open? It hurts my heart. It’s so overwhelming to think about all the things I wish I could fix in this world. I look out and I see thousands of starfish just drying out there in the sun, some of them even outright refusing to be thrown back in!
Eisley’s point is fairly obvious. We don’t have to save the entire world. Making a difference for one individual at a time is a worthy cause. As Christ-followers, we are called to bring the news of His Salvation to all nations, near and far. Our mission field should include both those in third-world nations, those in our own localities and everywhere in between.
Is there a cause that speaks directly to your heart? What are you going to do about it? Are you one to sit and sigh in frustration because you’re just one person against the world? Or instead, will you step up and throw that single starfish back, to make a difference… even to just that one?
“Set your hearts on things above, not on earthly things.” -Colossians 3:2
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