A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore.
Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.
“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?,” he asks.
“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don't throw them further in they will die.”
“But, old man, don't you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can't possibly save them all; you can't even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won't make any difference at all.”
The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”
I heard this story from the pulpit many years ago. Maybe forty or more. It became one of maybe a dozen truths that I heard preached that settled into my heart as a young Christian and molded who I am. I know that it's just a story, but it runs parallel to one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Jude 22 says, "And of some have compassion, making a difference." Oh my word, I love that!
I never heard that story again until I just now googled it and found it. But I've thought of it hundreds of times and have taught it often. And it's just as precious to me now as it was then.
God's great compassion. Why He loved me and showed such compassion for me when I was so unlovely I'll never understand this side of heaven. But I know that His love constrains me to have compassion on others and show them His grace and mercy. The Lord can love them though me! Woohoo! What an honor and a privilege! What a mighty God we serve!
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