“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
Recently, I was at a seaside resort sitting on a bench looking out to sea enjoying the view and the peace and quiet. My peaceful moment was interrupted when a young man, probably around 19 or 20, walked past calling out loudly to someone he knew on the opposite side of the road. It was meant to be friendly banter but the language he was using was the foulest imaginable. He had absolutely no regard for me or anyone else sitting around there (many of whom were elderly) also trying to enjoy a peaceful moment. His body language and even the way he walked showed a rebellion and a disrespect for others.
As I watched him walk away I wondered what kind of circumstances he was living in, what kind of job he had or was he one of the many unemployed (or unemployable)? A picture was building up in my mind and I doubted whether he had any kind of a decent future, a chance of a happy marriage, etc. and I began to feel desperately sorry for him.
At that moment I decided to quietly say a prayer for the young man and asked that God might show His grace and mercy toward him and perhaps lead him to a better life. Then I thought about the many other young people like him and began to doubt that God would show any interest in this one young person. It was then that I recalled to mind a story I heard some time ago:
A father and his young son were walking along a beach when they noticed that a multitude of starfish had been inexplicably washed ashore, still alive. The little boy expressed to his father his desire to rescue them and throw them back out to sea. His father told him no, there were far too many starfish to be able to make any difference. The boy picked up a starfish, tenderly stroked it and threw it back out into the ocean saying, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”
That story always makes me smile. I don’t know how God responded to my prayer that day but I do know that, in praying, I was participating in God’s love and grace and what He ultimately wants for all people, and that is to share in His glorious kingdom for ever, as we read in the lead scripture, 2 Peter 3:9.
The young man I prayed for doesn’t know it yet but one day his opportunity will come to have a share in this wonderful event. After all, he is worth more than many starfish!
Heavenly Father, please help us not to judge others too harshly, or give up on them. Our love, like yours, can make a difference in every life we touch.
Study by June Burrows
Worldwide Church of God Southampton
Local Congregational Contact: