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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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How To Make a Difference

Somebody observed that if you listen to the never do's, it's never done. The Bible reveals a "can do" God who calls on His people to be a can-do church. As an old gospel song reminds us, there is much to do. There are countless souls to be taught and children to be loved and trained and nurtured. There are lonely and aged and sick and other shut-ins to be visited. There are Bible classes begging for teachers, pews to be filled, discouraged people who need a call or note or a shoulder to cry on. The challenges and work and problems surrounding the church are bigger than we are. No single person can feed all the hungry, help all the hurting, teach all the lost, or deal with all the sin and suffering. There is so much hurt, so much trouble and need — it staggers our minds. All this need can lead to a kind of "analysis paralysis" where the size of the problems and need causes some to wrongly conclude the little they can do won't make much difference. So, since they can't do everything, they give up and won't do anything. Such faithless, stinking thinking increases the role of the "never-dos" who never get anything done.

Every now and then, every Christian ought to take a moment and think about Sister Tabitha (also known as Dorcas). This remarkable lady shows up in Acts 9:36-42 where her story is told in less than 200 words. Though not one of the movers and shakers in the book of ACTS (she wasn't a Peter or a Paul or even a Priscilla), she was anything but a never-do. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit had it written that this disciple of Christ was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did" (niv "always doing good and helping the poor" [9:36b]). The text abruptly tells us she died, and when she did the disciples sent for Peter who happened to be in a town close by. Peter came, and "all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which borcas had made while she was with them" (9:39b). Turns out Tabitha made a difference for God and people with a needle! We don't have space to dig into her story, but we cannot miss the fact she made a difference! Not by helping everyone, but by helping those she could; not by doing everything, but by doing something; not by doing huge things far away, but by doing humble things near at hand. With her needle she sewed herself into the hearts of those around her, and into the Holy Bible! Years ago the Reader 's Digest told about an old man walking along the beach at dawn. He noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Finally catching up with the youth, he asked him why he was doing this. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. "But the beach goes on for miles and there are millions of starfish," countered the old man. "What difference can your effort make?" The young man looked at the starfish in his hand, and as he threw it to safety in the waves, he said, "It makes a difference to this one." Sister Tabitha made a difference for the ones she could. She reminds us that while we cannot expect to make a difference for everyone, we can always make a difference for someone — if we will just stay busy doing what we can where we are with what we have. Thanks to all those who are making a difference.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ