“My name is Mitchell,” he said gently, locking eyes with mine, his hands grasping the small paper plate we had brought.
My daughter waited nearby under a drooping tree branch, unsure if she should come any closer. My face registered surprise at his lucid state and the warmth in his eyes, although I tried to hide it.
“I will see you around,” I said.
“Okay, thank you.”
And in that moment, the “crazy person” I’ve observed at the park for three years became someone altogether different.
Impactful work is right in front of us.
Most of my hours are spent at home, doing the demanding work of rearing three daughters. But my heart burns for the presumably greater things I think I could be achieving for God.
Over the years, we have found various ways to serve our community as a family. But it never feels like enough. The world seems like one giant, aching pit desperate to be made whole, and I want to take on a role that feels significant, that makes a tangible difference.
And this is where Mitchell comes in.
You see, he’s been right in front of me for years. There are many homeless people in our surrounding area. But Mitchell walks by my house and sits at the park near me. The truth is I’ve been afraid of him, but I didn’t know if my fear was justified.
I have wanted to make a difference, and he was right there.
Culture perpetuates the myth that significance comes from big ideas, large ministries, and platforms. It calls for us to yearn for something on a grand scale because those are the things most worthy.
This overwhelms us, and we are tempted to do nothing, to hang back and let others with more resources try. We concede that the poor will always be among us.
The problem with our logic is that while we can’t solve all of the world’s problems, that was never our responsibility. We weren’t called to meet every need, but to meet some needs.
In the scriptures, God promises to take care of the poor and needy, the orphans and widows (Psalm 68:5). And how exactly does that miracle happen? It takes bodily form in us. It requires the rending of our own hearts, the sacrificing of our own lives. He made the promise but we are the fulfillment of it.
Ordinary acts of kindness are powerful.
Our calling may not be to miraculously feed five thousand, to pack up our family and move to an overseas mission field, or to start a new charity.
What if we were to help one?
This tug on my heart led me to plate a portion of our breakfast recently, cover it, and walk it down to the park where Mitchell hangs out.
He very politely thanked me and said, “This looks good.”
The whole way I walked home, a single thought rang in my ears.
The most powerful thing we can do is to follow through in obedience with what God asks—no matter how small. It becomes significant because He says it is because He cares for the one sheep, not just the collective.
What if each of us poured our concern and resources into ordinary, small deeds? What if it were the mobilizing of many people doing small things that made the biggest difference?
Practical service is where Christianity comes alive.
The point is not what we do, or how much we are able to give, it’s that we engage on some level that fits our season of life. Christianity meets the pavement when we embrace the sometimes hard work God has for us and just do it.
Instead of planting seeds of compassion for a big, lost world overseas, we can plant seeds of love and hope for our own community. We can do something now.
The opportunities are limitless if our eyes are open to us being the solution, not to every world crisis, but to that one person right in front of us that we do have the resources to help.
What needs exist right in your neighborhood or larger community? What is one step you could take this week to make a difference?
Angie is a writer and speaker who lives and surfs in Hawaii with her husband and three daughters. Her passion is to help women trade their stress and fears for a more peaceful and purposeful life. You can find her blog and other resources at angiegibbons.com and on Instagram @angiegibbons.writer.
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