But our God did not call us to fix all the world's ails, He simply calls each one of us to obedience. Imagine every single person listening and doing the one thing He asks of them. What might the impact be?
It was a bitingly cold February morning, and the four of us walked the downtown sidewalks between our warm, comfortable hotel and the luxuriously equipped conference centre.
At the halfway point, about two-and-a-half frigid blocks into our trek, we ducked into the coffee shop to soak up some warmth and drink down some fortitude. Armed with steaming paper cups, we ventured out for the final couple blocks. I opened my lid and sipped burning liquid into icy cold lips while we tromped the snowy concrete.
There he was, up ahead, hunched forward against the piercing wind, clothed in heavy coveralls designed for snowmobiling. All his life's possessions carried over his shoulder in a black plastic trash bag.
He must be so cold. I really should give him my nice, warm coffee. But I already drank from the cup. Too bad. Lord, bless this poor man who is without his own four walls of shelter, without a bed, without hope.
The morning worship was moving, the speaker inspirational. I think. I can't be sure because the whole time my heart was distracted. I heard His voice whispering to me, "You could have been his hope, his blessing. Oh how I wish you had listened to Me. Don't worry, someone else will hear my prompting and obey, and he will experience the soul-deep joy that only comes from obedience. He will know that he is making a difference."
Over lunch (convenience food served in under five minutes, purchased with pocket change, consumed in the heated food court of a shopping centre rife with opportunities to spend more) I shared how I felt compelled to give away a cup of love and how I ignored the voice of God. My story was met with the echo of three voices sadly confessing, "Me too."
No, our obedience would not have given world peace or brought an end to world hunger. Armies from many nations try to bring peace and fail. Organizations pour out missionaries to feed the hungry from here to the ends of the earth, yet people starve. All that our meagre gift could offer was hope for a cold and lonely man who had none. Perhaps changing the world is about giving what you have, when you have it, when God tells you to do it. The cure to all that ails this earth might be as simple as a little cup of hope.
A few days later, when I heard His voice again, I listened.
What do you do to change the world?
Today, at A Holy Experience, we're having a conversation about giving, how we give, and how to give thanks.