“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
– Ephesians 3:18-19
I lived and worked in Ireland for 2 years and when things got a little tough, missing home and generally feeling alone, I’d head down to a certain beach and walk along the shoreline. The one summer’s day that I was there, I remembered a section from a book I’d been reading where the author shared a brief testimony. She had been doubting God’s love for her – or at least needed some serious reminding – and walking on the beach, she’d asked God to prove His love for her. She was very specific: she wanted a purple starfish. Continuing along the beach, she came to some rocks and there, at her feet, was a perfect purple starfish! She was overjoyed and so grateful… until she walked around the rocks and saw the entire beach was covered in purple starfish. God’s love is limitless. I thought about this and realised that part of the reason for my even being on the beach was that I too needed God’s reminding that He loved me. But I didn’t want a purple starfish. I wanted a perfect, pink shell.
I kept walking and soon enough, right at my feet was… a purple starfish. I stood for a moment staring at this little creature, dumbfounded. I waited. And then I heard the Holy Spirit say “toss it back into the water”. I did. I carried on walking. Two metres on, I looked down and saw nestled in the sand – another purple starfish. I stared. I think I could sense God grinning. I bent down and tossed the starfish into the waves. I kept walking, eyes to the ground. Two steps more and there lay (yes, you guessed it) another purple starfish. I looked up and saw that every two or three steps ahead, there lay a purple starfish. I felt God speak again and say “Be faithful with the little tasks.” Almost immediately, I was reminded of the story about the man on the beach with all the starfish, throwing them back into the ocean and when asked what the point was, he answered “I can’t save them all, but I can make a difference to the ones I do help” (or something along those lines). Deliberately, I walked the remainder of the beach stopping, picking up each starfish and throwing it back into the ocean. As I neared the end of the beach, I turned back to return to my car, not quite sure what the lesson of the day was or what had happened to my shell – or if I was somehow supposed to connect it all together. Walking not five metres back, there at my feet, sitting upon the sand was – my perfect pink shell. It was exquisite. It’s impossible that I may have missed it earlier; it simply appeared after I had passed. As I bent down to pick it up, again I felt God speak “Be faithful with the little tasks that I give you – and I will give you the desires of your heart.” Needless to say, I cried.
I don’t think I’ve told many people this story, but was thinking back on it the other day and felt I needed to share it here, on the blog. The shell was beautiful and was such a special sign between me and God, but it wasn’t the lesson I took away with me. God spoke very clearly that day on the beach; be faithful with the little tasks that I give you. If I hadn’t thrown each of those little starfish back into the ocean it wouldn’t have changed God’s love for me – but I may not necessarily have received my shell. God loves us perfectly, without doubt of that changing. Ever. But His pouring His blessings out upon us is often limited by our own heart attitudes and behaviour. If we’re not walking in submitted obedience to His will, how can His blessings reach us? I often think of it as being in that “sweet-spot” with God; where His love and presence is just so evident in your life that His blessings are tangible. And that place does not mean you’re off in wild Africa building mission stations and feeding orphans (if that’s God’s call upon your life, enjoy it and may it be blessed!), it’s simply being in the place where God calls you to, doing what He asks of you… for some it might just be those radical life-altering missions in isolated places, for others it may be preparing the next generation through education or even raising the next generation at home as a mom. It might be in the market place, being a shining light living out God’s values in your industry. I don’t know what God’s plan is for your life – but I pray that you do, and that you’re there, living it out and giving Him the glory. It’s like the parable of the talents in Matthew 25: 14-30. The Master gives his servants varying amounts of talents and leaves on a journey. He returns and asks them what they’ve done with their apportioned talents. The first had tremendous success and was faithful in increasing it to the best of his ability; the second had similar success, but not quite on the same scale and the third simply buried his in the ground. The first two servants are praised and rewarded; the third thrown in jail as the Master says “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” (vs 29)
I used to think the master was a little harsh, but I now realise that it’s a huge responsibility being entrusted with talents, and no matter how many talents you have in comparison to the person next to you, God is asking you to develop those talents to the very best of your ability. Be faithful in the small tasks that God may present before you as it builds the character within you required for much greater things. Again, like the Master in the parable, God wants to say to each of you “Well done, my good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” (vs 21).
There have been so many extraordinary prophetic words regarding 2012 and even speaking to Christian friends, there’s an expectation for great things – awesome things beyond anything we’ve ever known or experienced before. And I really feel that as we enter this season, God is saying look at the talents placed before you, consider the call upon your life and walk in joyful obedience because Abundance in coming. God is revealing His glory in 2012 in new ways and is wanting to pour out His love and blessings upon His favoured ones in ways that we cannot begin to fathom. I don’t know about you, but I want to be in that sweet-spot when all that happens – I want to be able to testify of God’s incredible and mind-blowing love for me and the sheer decadence of His blessings upon my life!