Wednesday, October 3, 2012

One at a Time

by Gregory A. Johnson

One at a Time, by Gregory A. Johnson
While pastoring in central Kentucky, we were fortunate to have a very capable and talented Christian education director, Rae Jean Slusher. Rae Jean conducted training conferences for our teachers and in one of those trainings she gave an illustration that has stuck with me ever since. She showed a video clip that told a story about a boy on the beach who is dismayed by all of the starfish washed up on the beach, knowing that with them being exposed to the rays of the sun and without water, they will dry up and quickly die. The boy starts taking the starfish one by one, throwing them back into the water where they will live.

A man walking the beach comes up to the boy and says, "There are thousands of washed-up starfish and you cannot possibly make a difference."
The boy picks up another starfish and throws it back into the sea saying, "I did for that one."
Hunger today is a huge problem and many, like this man walking the beach, think that they cannot possibly make a difference, so they do nothing. Like the boy throwing the starfish back into the ocean, I believe that we can make a difference. Not only can we, but we must, even if it is one at a time.
My son and I had been mule deer hunting and camping in eastern Oregon with a group of church men. We were about four hours from where we lived in the fertile and beautiful Willamette Valley. Coming home from the trip deer-less as every other year we went while living in Oregon, we stopped to grab a bite to eat at a McDonalds. It's one of my least favorite places to eat, but we were hungry, it was priced within our limited budget, and it was convenient.
We ordered our meal and we sat down to eat. While we were eating, I noticed a man sitting by himself with nothing to eat or drink. It was obvious that he was homeless; he had a bedroll in the seat beside him, and he was noticeably unkempt, dirty, and smelly. There were a lot of people in the restaurant, but everyone was avoiding this man along with the seats in immediate proximity to him.
We finished our lunch, and I walked over and asked the man, "Can I get you something to eat?"
The man looked up at me rather surprised and shyly said, "A Big Mac would be good."
I said, "I will get you a Big Mac, fries, and drink."
As I turned and started to walk to the counter, the man said, "Can you get me two Big Macs?"
"Sure," I said.
I ordered the meal and took it to him at his table and said, "God loves you."
"Thanks," he said.
What I did that day is not anything special and I'm sure there are many reading this that would do the same given the same circumstances, but as we left the restaurant that day, questions were running through my mind. When was the last time this man had anything to eat? How long had he been sitting there that day? How many had come, eaten, and left who could have met the obvious need, but instead avoided this hungry man? When was the last time he had seen the love of God for him in action? How many left the restaurant that day who would be attending a church that Sunday?

Excerpted from the book, The Kingdom According to Jesus by Gregory A. Johnson. Copyright © by Gregory A. Johnson. All rights reserved.

Know that you are loved,