I was scanning the internet today and ran across this beautiful story. It is the story of a woman named Tinney who sits in her living room and waves at students who are passing by.
I have to admit that I cried a little bit at my desk.
As I was watching the video I was struck by the news reporter’s statement, “Small Gestures Can Make a Big Difference.” I think this is at the heart of the Gospel message. As Christians, we are called to live our lives in such a way that the little things matter. It is the small things that matter to add up to big differences in people’s lives. I can think of countless examples of this. It is people who take time out of their busy lives to mentor an at-risk child each week. It is a person who goes out of their way to meet the needs of someone who is going through a difficult time. It is people who call or text someone to let them know that they are thinking about them. It is someone who teaches a Sunday school class or sings in the choir or volunteers at the Mission or reaches out in care and compassion at work, which make big differences in people’s lives.
My next door neighbors growing up in Tulsa were just like Tinney. Both of them passed away in the last few months and I can’t help but think about the lasting impact that Jack and Betty had upon my life growing up and continue to shape me in ways that I never imagined. Jack and Betty were the most kind, most giving, and most loving, people that I have ever known. These attributes were strongly rooted in their faith as Christians. We lived next door to them and they were always going out of their way to reach out to our family. My brother and I spent most of our free time playing out in the yard. My father built a fort in our backyard and we didn’t have a fence so we would cross into Jack and Betty’s yard on a daily basis. They were always sitting on their porch in the late afternoons. They had a honeysuckle bush that was on their yard and I was constantly enjoying the sweet nectar. Often times, Jack and Betty would wave and we would cross over to visit with them on their porch. Most afternoons I would spend a while sitting on their porch swing visiting with them and being in the presence of a truly loving couple. They were living out God’s call upon their lives in everyone they encountered.
I think about those times a lot. Now that I have children of my own, we are blessed with neighbors like Betty and Jack. They go out of their way to greet my girls. Invite them over. Reach out to them. They too are people of strong Christian faith and I am thankful for their daily presence in our lives.
When I think of Jesus’ call upon our lives it is a call to love our neighbor. Loving our Neighbor as yourself is sometimes difficult. It is sometimes messy. It is sometimes frustrating. But when we reach out to all of God’s children and treat them as neighbors, these small gestures make a big difference in the lives of others but more importantly in transforming our own lives for the better. May the grace of God be with you this day as you reach out to those around you. There’s an old proverb that goes like this.
There’s a story about the beachcomber who was walking along the shore of the ocean.
And there were thousands and thousands of crabs that had been washed up on the shore and couldn’t get back and now, in the sun, were dying of dehydration.
And he spotted a little girl throwing the crabs, one by one, back into the sea.
And the beachcomber looked at her and said, “You know, there’s thousands and thousands of these dying crabs. What possible difference can it make if you throw a few back?”
And as the little girl threw a crab back into the ocean she said, “Well, it made a difference to that one.”