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  • Starfish on the Beach
    There was a kid, maybe 8 or 9…maybe 10…he was walking on the beach by his summer house one morning after a storm...there were lots and lots of starfish that had been washed up onto the beach during the storm; and he was throwing starfish back into the surf so they could survive…
    After a while, he came upon a scholarly, college professor type who asked the kid what he was doing...and the kid told him.
    The college professor condescendingly said - 'son, don’t you think you’re wasting your time? you KNOW you can’t help them all!'
    As the wise beyond his years kid casually tossed another starfish back out into the surf, he looked up at the man and said - 'well, I helped THAT one!'
    Whoever it is that our loving heavenly Father puts in your path, may you be encouraged you to minister to their needs, whatever those needs might be!
    (you think He would put someone in your path you are unable to be a blessing?)

    [this is an embellishment of a story posted on the internet about 20 years ago, original author not known to me]

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    January 18
  • From F-Bombs to A-Bombs, in 24 Steps 

    Summertime a while back, I was a ‘foreigner’ in a hot, huge, almost entirely non-English-speaking city. Solo status. I won’t mention how I got there - you wouldn’t believe me. But I knew NO one, and could communicate with NO one! Other than eye contact and body language.

    Did I mention hot? Sometimes in the summer a human needs to spend time in some ‘natural water’ - the ocean…or lake…or river! Swimming, snorkeling, soaking…connecting with earth’s energy. With no vehicle or bicycle or commonality of language, the best way to travel the several kilometers to the public ‘beach’ area on the river was by subway!

    The ‘metro’ eventually proved to be quite a blessing for me as I learned how to navigate it - inexpensive, frequent trains, quick…effective!  

    But make no mistake - the rule of the jungle, and the rule of the city was in effect – NO one helps NO one! Other quirks – lots of tightly packed humanity, usually in a big rush to get somewhere (and usually able to read the signs), lots of noise, foul subway smells, the claustrophobia of being nearly a quarter mile underground.

    And changing trains, common in any big metro, also meant changing stations – literally, walking a distance along sometimes mysterious underground passageways leading from the initial train (from your origin), to the second train (traveling to your intended destination). Changing stations on my trip to the public ‘beach’ also involved climbing STEPS!  Apparently one train line criss-crossed below the other.

    One of the simpler things I learned, though – be ON the return train by 5 PM! RUSH HOUR! Or risk getting trampled! I mentioned this was a BIG city?

    Refreshed as I returned from one of my late summer ‘beach’ trips, it was just about 5 PM! Everything going good. But no time to waste!

    Negotiating the passageway with the throngs of other folks, changing stations to change trains, I could see the bottleneck up ahead. THE STEPS!  

    And there, on the first step, was an older woman. Someone’s grandmother. Or great grandmother. Attired as one might be who did not have ample money. Hunched over. Struggling. Moving very slowly, if at all. Exasperating the bottleneck - backing up the hordes of rushing commuters. Her right hand gripped the railing. And her left hand gripped the handle of an immense piece of luggage! The small wheels at the bottom of the luggage would not be any help on the steps. No one else would be of any help to this grandmother either. Trouble! To be trampled would definitely constitute trouble!

    Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels….                                                                                 Hebrews 13:2

    Unconsciously moving over to the right side of the bottleneck, my presence moved next to her. I didn’t ask if she needed help; I didn’t have to. My right hand gently grasped the handle of her heavy luggage.  Gazing into her eyes, I saw F-BOMBS! Fatigue. And now FEAR! Some unknown man (albeit immensely handsome!) had grasped her luggage! Grandmother’s left hand gripped her luggage even tighter! I gently lifted, still looking into her eyes. She saw compassion. And she understood.

    …I will show you my faith by my works.        James 2:18

    The crowd kept its distance. And up the steps we went!  It all happened in a mere moment; an eternity passed. I gently letting go of her luggage once we were safely a few footsteps beyond the top of the stairway. The wider corridor allowed the pedestrians to move more freely, and the built-in luggage wheels would enable grandmother to once again pull her burden on the flat surface.

    Turning again toward grandmother, I noted her completely new, revived, full of LIFE demeanor. Sensing the language barrier, she knew she couldn’t thank this ‘foreigner’. But her F-BOMB eyes now were A-BOMBS! AWE! And APPRECIATION! All the thanks I could have ever wanted!

    …our citizenship in heaven…   Philippians 3:20

    Nodding, I bowed slightly, with a demure smile…pleased that she had trusted me! And without further ado, I turned and went on about my way. It occurred to me how blessed we BOTH were – someone’s grandmother got to the top of the impossible steps! And this ‘foreigner’ got a wonderful story with which to encourage others!

    He who has a generous eye [looking to help!] will be blessed, for he gives…to the poor.                                                                                                         Proverbs 22:9

    Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.                                                                                                      Proverbs 21:13

    And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and the perfect will of God.                                                                                 Romans 12:2

    For as the body without the spirt is dead, so faith without works is dead also.                                                                                                                       James 2:26

    I don’t know when the prescribed ‘thanksgiving day’ is in that immense city. But I know that woman was thankful on THAT day!

    …the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.                                                                                                  James 3:17-18

    Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good…!                                              Psalm 34:8

    © 2020 - S.T.Mann; this story is offered under Creative Commons license - it is permissible to reuse the story provided attribution and bio are included.  


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