Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:24-40 (NIV)
Once old enough to hold a plastic shovel, youngest son was fascinated with digging. It could be because his older brother also liked to dig holes. In fact, oldest son and his friend once dug a hole into which at age two, youngest son fell (or was pushed depending on who you talk to). All I saw out my kitchen window was youngest son’s feet waving in the air. It didn’t scare him, but inspired him to dig his own holes. There was always at least one hole being dug in our yard. One year, I got a pile of dirt as a birthday present to use in gardening. Youngest son whose birthday is one week after mine claimed my present for his own and it was weeks before I could use it for my purposes. In the meantime, he bulldozed it with trucks and shovels and built all kinds of caves and tunnels. In middle school, he started digging a different kind of hole. The kind you find yourself in when you refuse to do your homework or lie to get out of a situation that it would be much easier to have told the truth about. He was always in trouble, always disobedient, always rebellious and I was always anxious and afraid about his future. Not to mention sad and angry. Then, he grew up and went back to digging holes in the ground again. He was always ready with the post hole digger or a shovel. We could never have fenced the pasture without his help. He helped me prepare my gardens. He became the caretaker of our family’s pet cemetery. He is not afraid of hard work and will dig until he has blisters on his hands. So, when I finally received the first blog post for the mission group with which he is serving in Haiti this week, I had to laugh. In addition to caring for the orphans, guess how he is spending his week? Digging holes. He is helping to build a fence around the playground, repairing playground equipment and erecting a clothesline for the massive amounts of laundry that 150 children create. As my friend, Vicki, emailed me when she read the post, “I love the thought that hanging a clothesline could ultimately feel like one of the more important things a person accomplished in their time here on earth.” I love it, too. So many times, we think we have to do some huge, amazing thing in order to make a difference in this world. We have to raise billions of dollars, build a great building, find a cure of cancer, save the masses. But, all we are really called to do is help the people, one at a time, that God puts in our path. Be a friend, say a word of encouragement, buy some groceries, offer a ride, give a hug. Dig a hole. Little gestures grow into big ones. One person at a time, we can make a difference.