It was late in my High School career, maybe even into my college life, when I realized that not everyone's parents spent their lives teaching lessons through parables. I had never thought the bible to be obtuse, or difficult to understand, because I was used to puzzling out what it was my parents and grandparents actually meant instead of listening to what they said. Somewhere between "You make a better door than a window!" (means, you're blocking my view!) and "I hope I never get that old!" (stop whining, I got it worse!) translating in real time became second nature.
So, without further ado, here's one of my favorites. One that I heard from Bammy, and I tell to anyone who hesitates long enough to listen, about who it is I want to be.
Once there was a young boy, wandering down the beach at low tide. As he wandered along, he would occasionally bend over and pick up a starfish that was washed up on the shore and pitch it back in the water so it wouldn't dry out and die.
An old man saw this, and asked the boy "What are you doing?"
"Saving the starfish!" The boy replied.
"You're wasting your time!", said the old man, "Just look. The beach is full of starfish washed up by the tide. If you spent every waking moment at it, you couldn't possibly save them all!"
"You're right," said the boy, picking up another starfish and tossing it in the water. "but I made a difference to that one."
So, the moral here is pretty straight forward. I spend my life trying hard not to be the cynical old man who has given up on trying because I can't solve the world's problems. I try to be more like the boy, and make a difference where I can. But that's not what I need to say today.
Lately, I've been feeling like the third character in the story. If you missed it, class, go back and try again. Too often in recent months I've been feeling like the starfish. I've been feeling like I've overreached my boundries, and I can't get back into safe waters before the tide strands me out in the sun.
So, what I need to say is: Thanks! Whether you're part of my family, one of my kids, one of the WoW players I hang out with online, a co-worker, someone at church, or someone who's blog I've taken to reading in recent weeks ... whether you know it or not or it was intentional or not ... you've all been that boy for me. You've scooped me up out of the sand, hucked me back into the sea that is my life, and made a difference to this one. You've helped me survive, and I'm counting on you to help me next time, too.
You see ... like the starfish ... I'm not going to stop reaching!