Starfish Redefined

“A man was walking along a beach that was covered by thousands of starfish that had been washed onto shore by the tide. He noticed a small boy picking up the starfish one by one, throwing them back into the sea. The man pointed out that this was an exercise in futility as the boy would never be able to make a significant difference to the multitude of starfish dying on the sand. The boy pondered this comment, picked up another starfish and tossed it into the sea, and said, ‘I made a difference to that one.'”

I’ve heard this story many times before, but this week, it was made very personal to me. My life is so busy and so full, that it becomes very natural to take on a task-oriented approach to life. I look at my calendar, make a to-do list, put on my blinders and get stuff done! I often feel accomplished at the end of the day having checked so many things off my list. But this week I was asked to pause and consider the lives I’m impacting along the way. Who have I stopped to connect with? Whose life have I taken interest in and ministered to?

The discussion of the starfish story brought up an interesting point, if the boy was trying to approach his task like a to-do list, he could’ve used buckets, machines, or contraptions to better leverage his time. But he didn’t. He valued each individual starfish he rescued.

As so often is the case, God provided an opportunity to put this lesson into action repeatedly this week. I was planning on spending my Friday going over my sermon notes for a speaking engagement. But as I spoke with a friend that morning, the Holy Spirit stirred in me that He had different plans for me that day. She was my starfish that day and I was able to be used to make a huge difference in her life. Had I not been open to slowing down and listening, I would’ve missed the opportunity to watch someone’s life be touched by God’s hand.

In this busy world, take the time to intentionally slow down and pay attention to the people around you. Afterall, it doesn’t matter how many tasks we scratch off our list if we didn’t make a difference to the people around us.

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” -Matthew 25:40

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