In my weekend services this Sunday I intend to reference the familiar “starfish story” along with the question, “Where is God calling you to make a difference?” You’ve probably read this story or heard it paraphrased in sermons or motivational speeches, but I thought you might enjoy reading it again and being reminded that even our feeblest of efforts can contribute toward a positive change in the world. Here is an adaptation of Loren Eiseley’s “the Star Thrower.”
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a little boy, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The little boy was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The little boy paused, looked up, and replied, “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the little boy replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
Discouraged he began to walk away. Suddenly the little boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”
The man looked at the little boy inquisitively and thought about what he had said and had done. Inspired, he joined the little boy in throwing the starfish back into the ocean.