Originally posted Jan. 12, 2012, at I’m into Grace. Republished with permission of the author.
In a meeting the other day, I was expressing my frustration that something was going to be a much slower process than I would like, when a very wise person said, “Well, you can’t boil the ocean.”
I had never heard that expression before and I loved it. I had a lot of reactions like: “Huh?” “What?” “Whatever that means.”
Really, people? You don’t get it? I guess I’ll have to blog about it then.
Summary: You can only do what you can do when you can do it.
Almost every day, I hear someone say, “There is so much need in the world! How can I respond to all of it?” The answer is, “You can’t boil the ocean.”
Or — God puts people in front of you every day who are in desperate need. God asks that you see these people, one at a time, with God’s eyes.
People who need to be:
The week before Christmas I was eating breakfast with my colleague at Perkins. Our server that day was a young woman who about three years ago had walked into our church asking for help.
At the time, she was living in a sober house after going through treatment and was trying to get her life back on track. She wanted to volunteer at the church — both for something productive to do with her time — and to show that she was truly healing. She had three monumental goals: 1) To stay sober. 2) To find a steady job. 3) To get her son back.
My colleague saw her with God’s eyes and welcomed her with open arms. During the time that she volunteered at the church, she brought her bright smile and willingness to do anything we asked.
She came to worship faithfully and often had “wet eyes” because she was so moved by God’s love.
When I saw her at Perkins, I was so happy to hear that all of her goals have been accomplished. Praise God!
As she was pouring my coffee, she asked me if we were doing the Holiday Giving Tree again this year. This is where members of the congregation bring gifts for people in our community who have a difficult time affording Christmas gifts.
I told her that the Giving Tree was over for the year, and she looked really disappointed. When she came back to re-fill the coffee I said, “You know, if you need gifts for your son, we can take care of that for you.” And she said, “Oh, no. I don’t need help this year! I was asking because I wanted to help someone else! Your congregation helped me so much and now that I’m doing well I wanted a chance to give back.”
When we see with God’s eyes — and love with God’s heart — reaching out to one person at a time, it’s contagious. God’s vision is catching.
As it turns out, we can boil the ocean — as one Facebook friend put it — one lobster pot at a time.
Find a link to Kris Capel’s blog I’m into Grace at Lutheran Blogs.
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