Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Do stories and word-pictures help you remember things worth remembering?  They do me.  Here is one that has had a profound influence upon me for many years.  I do not know who authored it, but I remain grateful to the friend who wrote it out and framed it for me back in 1987:
As the young man walked along the beach at dawn, he noticed an old man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea.  Finally catching up with the old man, he asked him why he was doing this. The answer was that the stranded fish would die if left in the morning sun.  “But the beach goes on for miles and there are millions of starfish,” countered the young man.  “How can your effort make any difference?”  The old man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the waves.  “It makes a difference to this one,” he said. 
The time in my life when this began to work itself most deeply into my soul was in 2003 when my husband and I desired to adopt for a third time, but we did not have enough money to do so.  By the grace of God, we were able to cover the costs of our first two adoptions without asking for help.  It had not even occurred to us to ask as we saved and waited and prayed.  That's how we had been raised.  BUT it was also by the grace of God that we needed to ask for help if a third adoption was to happen.  As difficult as it was on many levels to fund-raise, it was REALLY good for us to see the body of Christ work TOGETHER to "make a difference to this one."   It was also good for our local church, our families, our neighbors...everyone who began to catch the vision of our Father's heart for the fatherless.  This was transformational for me, not primarily on the money-front, though money was needed and gratefully received, but in regards to seeing how God wants His people to work together.  We saw "young men" and "old men" pictured, and learned lessons from both.  We're not just a bunch of mavericks with individual goals toughing it out for Jesus on our own. 

Not everyone is called to personally adopt, but as God's children, we should have a heart for what He cares about...preaching the gospel, setting captives free, ministering to widows and orphans, healing the sick, declaring His glory via our vocations, etc.  Jesus tells us in John 13:35  "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." There should be mutual encouragement going around, and help offered when needed so that as a body, working together, the love of Christ can be poured out in all our spheres of influence.  

Jumping back to the starfish story, one of the things that became very apparent to me when adopting our son Paul is that none of us can meet the whole need in any sphere entirely by ourselves.  But we can do what we CAN do.  The young man in the story questioned what difference it would make because there were millions of starfish...the old man wisely answered that his efforts were not in vain "to this one."  In the adoption arena, there are well over a million orphans in the world. The need is overwhelming. Will we be rendered useless like the young man who does nothing or will we be like the older man who became a part of the solution by doing what he could?  That part may be:
  • to consider taking steps to adopt if the Lord gives that desire to your family
  • to encourage those who you know who are wanting to adopt
  • to remember to pray for the orphans of the world (you may want to subscribe to an adoption newsletter like HOLT's so you can pray for some of these children by name...it helps keep you from falling prey to the "out of sight, out of mind" syndrome)
  • to sponsor a child in an orphanage
  • to give financially to someone you know who is adopting or support an organization (like Show Hope  at http://www.showhope.org/) that is committed to helping Christians overcome the obstacle of funds.  We were personally helped by Show Hope in our third adoption and now are able to contribute there to help others. 
We need to get past the idea that if we can't do it all ourselves, we shouldn't do anything...it's good to ask for help when we need it, and it is good to give help wherever we can.  We may not be able to help all the orphans, but we can work together to help the next one within our reach and make a difference "to this one", one child at a time.  

God is able to make all grace abound...read 2 Corinthians chapter 9 and be encouraged along with me by God, who gives to us freely all things, to be a cheerful giver for Him.  Freely we have received [be it money, time, ability to pray and speak words of encouragement, etc.], let us freely give (Matt. 10:8).  Everybody wins!  The givers get the joy of giving, the receivers get the joy of being loved, God's glory shines.

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