Sep 8, 2016

Saving Starfishes

It was one of those weeks…I know that we’ve all had them…when our efforts seemed to be two steps forward and one step backwards.

In fact I would submit to each of you reading that this is true for anyone who works in ministry or in direct care of people. We all have times when we’ve had enough and want to say to anyone who will listen; “Enough is enough!” 

Sometimes it comes out as frustration as people we are caring for or counseling CHOOSE to go back to an old habit or lifestyle. 

Sometimes it comes as a phone call on New Year’s Day from someone who sounds hung-over from CHOOSING to not go to a sober party a few hours earlier but CHOSE to drink the night away…and now wants to whine about how they wished they hadn’t…

And even though “momma told me there would be days like this”; they still can drain the life out of those who are caregivers or ministers. 

In fact, most of us left great paying jobs to work for half of what we used to because we actually (at some point) believed that we could make a difference for this life and for eternity.

You and I know that neither of us can save them all, we can’t even save one-tenth of all who come across our path in an average week. In fact, even if you and I work all day, sometimes it feels as though all of our efforts don’t seem to make any difference at all. Instead we find ourselves burned out at the end of a long week.

To you who find yourself today in this position I say; “Stop. Take a deep breath. And let me pour some perspective deep into your soul.

You, my friend, are called to save starfishes; and you make a difference even though you can’t see it through the tears that fill your eyes wondering if anyone knows just how tired you are.

There is a story that goes something like this: 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.”

That is what we are called to do; save starfishes one at a time. 

Let me remind you that this week you did make a difference, even if you don’t believe and are utterly convinced that you didn’t. To each and every starfish that we stopped and poured into; I’m promising you that it made a difference to that one.

And I want you to know that I understand just how tired and depleted and ready you are to quit your job or ministry; I really do. I know what it is like to be tired and worn out like you are.  

So I come to you today with no simple fixes and no simple answers to calm your heart that is vexed from shots taken at you this week. I have no simple ointments to sooth your wounds. 

And even though it feels as though sometimes like we are all alone in our pain, there is One who understands and KNOWS what we are going through. His Name is Jesus and He too came to save starfishes. 

Jesus KNEW what is was like to be so drained that at some of the greatest outpourings of healing and deliverances He needed to get away and be refreshed. And you do too.

Jesus said; These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)   

To us who are tired and worn out from giving; Jesus is saying:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

My friend, Jesus came to save starfish like you and I; so let’s let Him rescue us.

“Our mission is to create places of grace where unconvinced people can come to know and wholeheartedly follow Jesus Christ.” This includes those who walk with Him as well as those who haven’t yet met Him so that each may know the Hope of His Calling.

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