Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
THE ENCOURAGEMENT PROJECT
This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
Good morning Prayer Team!
One of my favorite stories is entitled “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley. It reads:
A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance. As he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water. Time and time again he kept hurling things into the ocean. As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach, and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water. When the man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied, “I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen.” “But,” said the man, “You can’t possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can’t possibly make a difference.” The boy smiled, bent down and picked up another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied “I made a difference for that one.”
I love this story. In life, there are lots of “starfish” on the “beach” who need help, who need encouragement. There are people who are going to people one by one, offering encouragement and support. And there are the naysayers who cynically comment that these efforts can’t possibly bear fruit. Well, the naysayers are wrong. Encouragement can and does make a difference. I can’t change the whole world and you can’t either. But we can certainly make a difference for the people we meet today.
We tend to look at life in too big a frame, in my opinion. We worry about things that may or may not happen far into the future. We not only, as the saying goes, lose the forest for the trees. We sometimes lose the trees for the forest.
Psalm 118:24 says “This is the DAY which the Lord has made.” It doesn’t say this is the year, or the decade or the life that the Lord has made. Only the day. And the Psalm tells us to rejoice and be glad in this day. And by extension, with “this person”, the person that we are encountering on this day, in this situation.
So, when we see opportunities to encourage others TODAY, we should take care of them today. When there is a “starfish” that needs oxygen and it is in our path, we can make a difference for that one. We can’t encourage everyone, but we can certainly encourage the people we meet today.
And it is important to rejoice today, because today is a gift from God. It is what we have. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is no guarantee. So we must rejoice today, encourage today, make a difference today.
As we have said many times, there are many more voices of discouragement than encouragement in our world. Just like there was only one boy and many starfish. He couldn’t save them all. Just like we can’t encourage them all. But you will encounter “starfish” in your life today. How many will your encouragement make a difference for?
Lord, help me not to be discouraged by the voices of negativity and cynicism that seem to surround us. Help me to be the voice of encouragement and help me to know that my encouragement makes a difference. Through Your mercy, allow it to make a difference for someone today. Send people into my path TODAY who can use some encouragement. Help me to keep my eyes open and my heart open so that I don’t miss an opportunity to encourage today. Amen.
Encourage a “starfish” today!
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