I don't know the author of this well known 'parable', but I think of it often.
Usually when I am afraid I cannot make a difference....
Once upon a time there was a philosopher who would walk along the beach every morning thinking about how to help the world.
One day as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a figure moving back and forth, rhythmically dancing to the day.
This gave him great pleasure, so he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young woman and the young woman wasn't dancing, but instead she was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.
When he got closer he called out, 'Good morning! What are you doing?'
The young woman looked up and replied with simple joy, 'Throwing starfish in the ocean.'
The man looked puzzled and said: 'I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?'
'The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don't throw them in they'll die.'
'But, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!' said the man.
The young woman listened politely. She then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea past the breaking waves and said with a smile...
'... but I made a difference to that one'.
As Christians, we are called to serve. May God help me as I trust Him to work out the big picture.
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." -Galatians 6:9