Posted by: mikenicholsblog | February 17, 2014

a difference for that one

It is amazing what you can find in a basement.  A friend recently told me that after making a decision to bring his treadmill out of storage, he found a missing baseball glove.  Basements become magnets for all that we plan to use again someday, but many times never do.  I happen to live in one of the rare homes where the basement is organized (my wife’s obsession).  The treadmill is not a clothes rack, and all Christmas decorations are boxed and labeled (she may have issues).  My wife recently placed a framed story on my basement bookshelf that she had received as a gift. It was a great story, placed strategically so that I could see and reflect on it.  Lines from the story have (and will) resonate with me, as I look from my desk up to the bookshelf. What a welcomed addition to, of all places, our basement.

At Journey, we speak a lot about the words of Jesus. We are passionate about examining the red letters found in the pages of Scripture. But I also wonder about other words that Christ poured into the disciples during the last season of His earthly life. Words not found in Scripture, but that ministered deep into their lives. Can you imagine what it would have been like as He walked along dusty roads sharing insight, advice, grace and mercy with Peter, Andrew, James, John and the others?  Each man likely had a story of the mentoring that took place day by day. I believe He prepared these men in ways that changed them … and also changed the world.  As Christ emptied His life into theirs, these privileged men were being prepared to radically affect human history.

The story in my basement bookshelf frame (The Starfish Story ), reminds me of the difference we can make on one life, and what that one life can accomplish.  It also drew my mind to think of how, two thousand years removed from the cherished insight given by Christ, lives are still being changed by the effect He had on those privileged men who walked with Him.  The story in my basement bookshelf frame goes like this:

A wise man was walking along the beach and saw a young man who was reaching down and picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. He called out, “May I ask what it is that you are doing?” The young man replied, “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”  “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.  The young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”  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.”  At this, the young man bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it in the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”

It seems to me that Jesus chose men to pour His life into that would not have ranked highly on the “Most Likely To Change The World” list, but Christ knew what He was doing. The difference He made in Peter, Andrew, James, John and the others, translated into a radical spiritual revolution.  You can’t compare a starfish to a person, but when the starfish is launched into the ocean, what a difference it makes. Christ poured His life into men, and it made a difference.

For Christ-Followers, our lives should not be just about who has poured into us, but who are we pouring our lives into. Remember in The Starfish Story, throwing a starfish back into water mattered to each one! If you and I intentionally pour our lives into someone … It can make a difference to that one. And we can never determine what potentially could come from that one life.  Although Christ loved and spoke to the masses, He also invested in men and women on a deeply personal level.  So should we!

Throwing starfish into the ocean may not be the best way to illustrate that we can make a difference, but I believe you get the point. If you could choose anyone to invest your life into today, who would it be?  Consider what a difference you could make.

You never know what treasures may be hidden in your basement!



  1. The Starfish Project, for which my granddaughter is a representative, is “Restoring Hope to Exploited Women” in Asia. One person can make a difference! I love the Starfish story. Thank you.

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