Making an Impact

“A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth.
The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water.
Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts.
And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.”

Sivananda
(Indian Scientist, 1887-1963)

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We’ve all said it at one time or another: “What difference can I make? I’m just one person.”

I recently came across a 2007 article by author and personal life coach Jo Middlemiss, where she reflected on a book she had received for Christmas — Change The World 9 to 5. It offered many small yet effective ways we can make a difference to the environment and to the lives of people. She listed several, and then said:

Bacopa blossoms, each barely the size of a fingernail.

Please don’t think for one minute that I do all of these things, I don’t. I know I could do so much more, but for a long time I really did believe that it didn’t matter what I did – how could one little person make a difference? Then I heard a story about someone questioning Mother Teresa about her work with the homeless in India.

“Surely Mother, the work you are doing is but a drop in the ocean?”

“Yes” said the wise one, “But isn’t the ocean made up of drops?” Of course it is, and everything we do, say or think has an impact somewhere, somehow.

Ann Voskamp has recently returned from Haiti. Her heart is angry at the poverty, angry at the inequality between the life she saw there and her life at home, angry at her inability to change it all. But she does make a difference. She goes to them, demonstrates God’s love to them, helps the few she can, then shares her concerns in a way that convicts others of the need to also help. If you have a few moments to click over to Ann’s post, read her words, see her photos… oh, how it pierces!

We are but a single drop of moisture, a single drop in an ocean of hatred, hunger, fear, oppression, pain, injustice and apathy. The need overwhelms.

I remember how a single drop of water, a sliver of ice, on a parched tongue after surgery was such a blessing.

I have a small fridge magnet that displays a tiny flower and the words, “Bloom where you are planted.”

Each of us is only one… but God can use us to meet a need, if we will open our eyes to see it, distant or close to home — if we will allow him to convict and convince us into action. Each small gesture will join with others to make an impact.

I see what Ann is doing. What meaningful things have you noticed others around you doing, perhaps unobtrusively, that is making a difference in some way?

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“The king will answer them, ‘I tell you with certainty,
since you did it for one of the least important of these brothers of mine,
you did it for me.'”

Matthew 25:40

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“Jesus said, “The first [commandment] in importance is,
‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one;
so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’
And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’
There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”

Mark 12:29-31

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Buried Alive

Amid the chaos and devastation in Haiti there are little miracles and moments of celebration. Six days after the earthquake a baby girl is pulled from the rubble. The seventh day two women are rescued.  Then, even after the Haitian government declares the search and rescue operations are over, yesterday, on the eleventh day, two young men are found alive. The brother of one said he “is disappointed at the government’s decision to disband rescue operations, as more people are likely to be trapped alive.”

I cannot grasp that horror.

May God’s merciful presence bring comfort to those who remain trapped under the debris and will die while waiting in vain for rescue.

Disparity

A head of golden silk rests against a soft blanket, one thumb tucked contentedly into the rosebud mouth as the eyes flicker closed. Tiptoeing into the darkened room, a mother gently adjusts the fleecy Winnie-the-Pooh print blanket around her sleeping babe.

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Another mother brushes flies from the open sores on her little one’s tear-stained cheeks. Round brown eyes stare from a halo of curls once wiry black, now dusted white by a cloud of concrete.  She shifts her aching body in the dirt of the street to provide her babe with shade from the noonday glare.

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Separated by 3,500 miles, they are both children of God. How His heart must ache at the disparity.

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Anguish in Haiti

The devastation in Haiti is incomprehensible. The earthquake that hit on January 12th measured 7.0 on the Richter scale — a force equaling thirty-five atomic bombs. It shook buildings into rubble, leaving three million refugees and at least 50,000 dead. [Update: four days after the ‘quake the estimate has risen to 200,000 dead — the worst natural disaster in history.] “Under the crumbled buildings lie the dying, calling out to be saved.” It’s beyond imagination. It screams in the stunned silence of my mind, starts tears coursing whenever I see the images on television.

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, a musician in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has composed a hymn that helps to express our pain and our faith.

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In Haiti, There is Anguish

(Sung to the tune “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” – St. Christopher)

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In Haiti, there is anguish that seems too much to bear;

A land so used to sorrow now knows even more despair.

From city streets, the cries of grief rise up to hills above;

In all the sorrow, pain and death, where are you, God of love?

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A woman sifts through rubble, a man has lost his home,

A hungry, orphaned toddler sobs, for she is now alone.

Where are you, Lord, when thousands die—the rich, the poorest poor?

Were you the very first to cry for all that is no more?

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O God, you love your children; you hear each lifted prayer!

May all who suffer in that land know you are present there.

In moments of compassion shown, in simple acts of grace,

May those in pain find healing balm, and know your love’s embrace.

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Where are you in the anguish?   Lord, may we hear anew

That anywhere your world cries out, you’re there– and suffering, too.

And may we see, in others’ pain, the cross we’re called to bear;

Send out your church in Jesus’ name to pray, to serve, to share.

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Tune:  Frederick Charles Maker, 1881

Text: Copyright © 2010 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.  All rights reserved.  Permission is given for use by those who support Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

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