Every day we make thousands of choices. We go to the grocery store. We choose to stop at a traffic light. Some decisions are so small that we don’t give them a second thought, but even the smallest of choices can make a world of difference.
Captain Edward Smith chose to ignore warnings about ice in the path of the Titanic. That one decision changed everything.
In 1955, a seamstress at a local department store was riding the bus to work. As the bus filled, she refused to give up her seat to another customer. It seems like such a small thing, but with that one small choice, Rosa Parks changed the course of civil rights and American history.
In 1989 a column of tanks descended on Tiananmen Square to crush the ongoing student. As they did, one man stepped in front of the lead tank. By doing so, he compelled the driver of the tank to choose. Because of one man, the entire column of tanks came to a halt. Photographs of that moment appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the world. With one act of defiance, one man captures the imagination of the world.
Last week (April 9, 2014), a student armed with knives entered the high school in Murrysville, Pennsylvania and attacked other students and a security guard. Amid the mayhem, Nate Scimio, a student and one of the wounded, reached out and pulled the nearest fire alarm. His quick thinking is saved lives and helped to evacuate the school.
Even the most simple and mundane choices have the power to make a gigantic difference. This is exactly what we find in the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Two of Jesus’ friends are asked to do something so remarkably simple that we are stunned to discover how important their contribution becomes.
Jesus tells his friends to go into town, find a donkey that he knows is there, untie it, and bring it back.
How much easier could that be?
What Jesus did was like asking someone to pick up a prescription. We’ve already phoned ahead, we already know that it’s ready, all they have to do is show up, get it, and bring it back.
And yet, as simple as it is, the task that these followers perform is significant.
As simple as it was, the disciples did as they were asked. As simple as it was, this act makes it possible for Jesus to arrive the way that the Kings of Israel had arrived. One small choice transforms an ordinary arrival into an historic event.
I want you to imagine what that might look like in your life.
Because God is the architect of our lives, he already has the big things all planned out.
God doesn’t ask us to build a multi-national pharmaceutical conglomerate, but simply to pick up a prescription. Go, get it, and come back.
A story, originally told by Loren Eiseley, tells of a man walking along a beach the night after an enormous storm. The beach was littered with starfish which had been washed ashore and as he walked, the man came across a child who was picking up starfish, one at a time, and throwing them back into the sea. After watching the child for some time the man said, “Why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. There are thousands of them. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
But after thinking about it for a moment, the child continued to throw starfish back into the ocean. Each time saying, “I made a difference to thatone… I made a difference to that one…”
Before God asks you to do something big, I can guarantee that God will ask you to do something small. Be ready. Do not hesitate because the thing that God asks is small.
In the hands of God, one small act can change the world.
Volunteer an hour of your time to visit someone who is lonely. Buy an extra can of food for someone that is hungry.
Smile. A kind word or a friendly face can change the course of an entire day.
Cry with a friend, or offer a shoulder to cry on.
Share Jesus with a neighbor.
Take a casserole to a neighbor who has health problems.
Offer to watch the children of a young family that can’t afford a baby sitter. This may sound small, but others did this for us when our children were small and trust me, this was a generous and amazing gift.
Invite a single friend to dinner. Did you know that for singles away from home, as well as for widows and widowers, family holidays like Christmas and Easter are the hardest to get through? What’s one more chair at the table?
Buy a box of diapers or a can of formula for a single parent. Do you know how expensive that stuff can be?
Offer to wash an elderly neighbor’s car or shovel their walk in the winter.
You can make a difference but you have to do something.
It doesn’t have to be a big thing to make a big difference.
But in the hands of God, one small act can change the world.