“But I am only one” You can make a difference!

By Greg Laurie

Used by kind permission of manhunt.com,

I have heard it said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do.”

One godly man or woman can make a dramatic difference, even in the darkest of circumstances. Jesus put it this way:

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. you are the light of the world – like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:13 NLT)

Our Lord is telling us that we, like salt, should make a difference in the situations we are in. Just as a little salt can either improve or worsen the flavor of something, a little influence can go a long way. You might be the only Christian in your family … or the only Christian in your workplace … or the only Christian in your classroom … or the only Christian in your neighborhood. In fact, you may be trying to get out of an uncomfortable situation in which you find yourself. But you may have been put there by the Lord to be an influence and, in a godly way, to move people in the right direction. God can do a lot with a little.

We have heard of people like Dr. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ International, who recently went to be with the Lord, and D. L. Moody, the great evangelist of his time, and of course, Billy Graham. But have you ever heard of Edward Kimball or Henrietta Mears?

Without Edward Kimball, there never would have been a D. L. Moody. Kimball was a shoe salesman. he worked at a shoe store in Chicago and felt led by the Lord to share the gospel with young Dwight, a fellow salesman. Dwight responded to the message, gave his heart to Jesus Christ, and ultimately went on to be the greatest evangelist of his generation. It was because of Edward Kimball’s faithfulness to share the gospel that the Lord reached D. L. Moody, who in turn reached millions.

What about Henrietta Mears? In 1928 she was called to teach a Sunday School class at the First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood. Under her direction, the class grew from 400 to 4,000. She later went on to found Gospel Light Publishing and Forest Home Christian Conference Center in Southern California. Of the people she influenced, 400 went into full-time Christian service. Among them were Bill Bright and Billy Graham.

It is the power of one. Our lives can make a difference. In Ezekiel 22:30 God says, “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one” (NLT). God is looking for that one who can make his or her mark.

You may be the only Christian whom some people will ever know. the fact is that God can do a lot with a little. If you don’t believe me, just ask that boy who was willing to share his lunch one day and saw Jesus feed 5,000 people, plus women and children, with his little meal. Or spend some time in the Book of Exodus, where you’ll find the story of one man who lived such a godly life that, for all practical purposes, he kept two-and-a-half million people from turning to full-tilt idolatry. His name was Moses.

God is just looking for one – someone like you – someone like me. Will you be that one person? We all would love to be a Billy Graham, D. L. Moody, or Bill Bright. Maybe you will be. But would you be willing to at least be an Edward Kimball or a Henrietta Mears? Would you be willing to do what you can, where you are, with the influence that God has given you? Never underestimate the power of one.

And Joe McKeever has written: “I once heard someone say, ‘My prayer doesn’t count much. I’m only one person.’ I said, ‘Do you know anyone who is ‘two’ ‘I’m only one person’ is the one excuse no citizen of planet Earth can use to get out of anything, since we are all ‘ones’ and no one is two, with the possible exception of those ‘Siamese’ we encounter on television occasionally, and even they seem to go out of their way to assure us that while they share some of the same body parts, they are two ones, and not a two.”

The starfish thrower

This short story now exists in hundreds of variations such as that below, based on one originally written by Loren Eisely and first published by Readers Digest in 1991. It illustrates the same principle in 1 Cor. 4-6: you are unique, and even apparently small things you do are of eternal significance.

I awoke early, as I often did, just before sunrise to walk by the ocean’s edge and greet the new day. As I moved through the misty dawn, I focused on a faint, faraway movement. I saw a boy, bending and reaching and waving his arms – dancing on the beach, no doubt in celebration of the perfect day soon to begin.

As I approached, I sadly realized that he was not dancing, but rather bending to sift through the debris left by the night’s tide, stopping now and then to pick up a starfish and then standing, to heave it back into the sea. I asked the boy the purpose of the effort. “The tide has washed the starfish onto the beach and they cannot return to the sea by themselves,” he replied. “When the sun rises, they will die, unless I throw them back to the sea.”

I looked at the vast expanse of beach, stretching in both directions. Starfish littered the shore in numbers beyond calculation. the hopelessness of the boys’s plan became clear to me and I pointed out, “But there are more starfish on this beach than you can ever save before the sun is up. Surely you cannot expect to make a difference.”

He paused briefly to consider my words, bent to pick up a starfish and threw it as far as possible. Turning to me he simply said, “I made a difference to that one.”

Copyright © 2006 Greg Laurie. All rights reserved.

The senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, Greg Laurie began his pastoral ministry at age 19 by leading a Bible study of 30 people. Since then, God has transformed that small group into a church of some 15,000 people. Today, Harvest is one of the eight largest churches in America, as well as the third largest in California.

In 1990, Laurie began holding public evangelistic events called Harvest Crusades. Since that time, well over three million people have attended Harvest Crusades in California, Seattle, Oregon, Philadelphia, New York, Hawaii, Florida and in Australia.

Laurie is the featured speaker of Harvest Ministry’s nationally syndicated radio program, A New Beginning. It is broadcast on over 500 radio stations.

As well as speaking and assisting other ministries, Laurie has authored over 30 books, including the Gold Medallion Award Winner, The Upside-Down Church. Some of his newest titles are Losers and Winners, Saints and Sinners, The Best Is Yet to Come, and Are We Living in the Last Days? Laurie is also the author of Why Believe?, The God of the Second Chance, and a devotional for couples called Marriage Conections. He also has authored study notes for two Bibles in the New Living Translation: the New Believer’s Bible and The Seeker’s Bible. His books have been translated into many languages, including Korean, Latvian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

For more about Pastor Greg, visit his personal homepage at http://www.greglaurie.org/.

There is only one comment, please add yours.

  1. diana white says:

    Love your new website! –and this is an excellent article to keep close to our hearts.
    Two Christmases ago, as I praised God for Jesus, He reminded me that His Children over the Earth would ALL be joining me in worshipping Him that day. I “saw” a picture of our hands lifted in praise and joined in prayer.This picture so stirred my heart, and I knew I needed to call His army forward.
    But who am I? I am only one. I’m not a pastor and I have no degree. I began to write and He moved me deeply into prayer. God called me to pray for this Nation, Canada, and for His Bride. I was led to Micah Challenge Canada, where my desire to draw His children together in prayer deepened.
    As I continued to write and send out encouragement I felt a gathering around me of the Saints of this nation, but Satan continued to distract me. The passion began to wane and I backed off, feeling insignificant. That thought plagued me–Who am I?–I am only one.
    Quietly, as I continued to press in to Christ, thru prayer and His word, He reminded me again–Yes, I am only one, but He is with me. I have no degree, but the Holy Spirit is my Teacher. My word has not been proven, but His Word stands the test of time.
    I may encourage one heart. That heart may be a new Billy Graham, Patricia King, or David Demian.
    Or, that heart may be a pastor in a dying church that badly needs to be reminded that His Holiness WILL be shown thru us for the sake of His Great Name. (Ezekiel 36) That heart may be a child who would never hear of Jesus without that word spoken into their life. Or a man/woman, deslolate and hungry for the hope of one smile.
    So, thank you. As we move together to encourage and to equip, Christ
    alone will Empower us and the
    Nations will know that He is The LORD!
    Hewbrew 12:1
    Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perserverance the race marked out for us.
    Praise Our Father, for that Great Cloud of Witnesses—YOU!! and me!

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