When my friend Laura Boggess goes to the beach, she chooses a person she cares about and writes that person’s name into the sand. Then she prays for her. I remembered this act of friendship last weekend while I was at the beach, and decided to do the same thing.
I found a small stick and with two fluid motions, spelled out a name in the damp sand.
I made a big swirl on the first letter and took my time to connect each of the remaining letters, followed by a big swish.
I retrieved my phone from the gallon bag in the green plastic pail and snapped a picture. I turned away from the sun and stuffed the phone back in the bag, “zipped” it closed, and placed the package back in the pail. When I turned around again to admire my work, it was gone. The waves lapped those cursive letters right out of the sand. There was no trace of my handiwork.
In that instant, I remembered a conversation I’d had with Laura. More than a year ago my daughter and I were traveling through West Virginia and she graciously agreed to house us for the night. Hannah went to bed early, but Laura and I stayed awake much later than is typical for me because time spent in heart conversation with a too-far-away-friend is more precious than a few hours of sleep.
We confessed how easy it is to feel insignificant when we compare our work to the great needs of the world or to the ministry of others. Ultimately, we encouraged each other with Truth from Zechariah 4:10, “Do not despise these small beginnings.”
Later I asked Hannah to create a thank you gift for Laura, based on the conversation and the Bible verse. She’s a talented artist/hand letterer. I’m not sure if she looked up the verse in a different translation, or if our conversation actually took a slightly different turn, but here’s a picture of Hannah’s artwork, “Make a difference in the small places.”
Like the tide that returns to the sand each day, those words came back to me this week. Exactly when I needed to hear them most. Lately, I’ve been second guessing how effective I’ve been at my business/ministry pursuit. A little more than a year ago I started Oikos Services to give hope and employment opportunities to disenfranchised women in need of a second chance. On the outside, we look like a residential cleaning company, but the vision is for so much more.
It’s been slightly more than a year and I only have three employees. We do daily devotionals together, but their situations are still pretty dire. While many of my former colleagues are out changing the word, I’m left wondering: is what I’m doing really making a difference?
When Laura and I sat in her family room, I’m not sure either of us realized we were in the midst of what was, at least for me, an ongoing Life Lesson.
Make a difference in small places. Indeed.
The tides come and go. High tide turns into low tide. Low tide into high tide. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months. Months into years. If we’re not careful, we can turn away from the task at hand, even for a brief moment, and think the impact we make on those around us has washed away.
That would be a lie.
We may consider quitting.
But that would be a mistake.
Especially when the Kingdom of God is at hand.
Cheryl is a wonderful entrepreneurial woman who I met a few years back when I was doing a women’s retreat in Virginia. I am so encouraged that she is really listening to what God is saying and then doing something about it.