I get discouraged easily. When I post something up on All4God and nobody comments on it or ‘likes’ it on Facebook I start to wonder if anyone has read it, if it has made an impact, if it was worth my time. And when I look at the number of comments on articles on other sites I visit or the number of followers my favourite Christian authors get it is easy to feel that what I am doing is small and insignificant. I constantly struggle with doubt that what I am doing is helping people, is being used by God.
Just the other day All4God reached 800 fans on Facebook. Which initially I thought was pretty cool, having so many people seeing what I and others where sharing through All4God. But then I started to wonder how many of those 800 actually read any of the articles that pop up in their newsfeed. I started to doubt, wondering if any of them actually took the time to read the devotionals. And the awesome thing is that without fail every time I am struggling with such thoughts God uses someone to give me reassurance that it is making a difference.
At about the same time as this was happening I was out for lunch with a friend, and we were chatting, catching up. I hadn’t seen her for a while and she hadn’t known about All4God the last time we had been together – I had subsequently sent her a link to it through Facebook. And midway through lunch she told me how she had been checking it out lately and had really appreciated the stuff on it, and had been telling one of her friends about it too, and they had also really liked it.
And as I was thinking about it later I was reminded of the parable of the lost sheep. Jesus tells this story of a shepherd with 100 sheep in Luke 15:1-7. One of the sheep goes missing (I don’t know how he managed to keep a count of them without falling asleep…). The shepherd doesn’t say “oh well, 99 is still a lot of sheep” – he leaves the 99 and goes hunting for that one missing sheep. And he finds it, and then he throws a big party to celebrate finding this one sheep “saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’”(v6) .
Obviously in the parable the shepherd represents God. And it shows us the value He puts on one individual. He says all the effort of the search is worth it for one person. He says that individuals matter, and shouldn’t be given up on. He says that one person added to the Kingdom is worth celebrating, is worth rejoicing over. He says forget about the numbers, forget the 99 that don’t need you because they are already safely in the sheep pen – look for that one person who needs you today and do what you can to help them, to bring them home, to change them from ‘lost’ to ‘found’. No matter what it takes it is worth it if one life is eternally changed.
Maybe my writing is not having a huge life-changing impact on as many people as I would like. But maybe my perspective is wrong. I want to have hundreds, thousands of people reading it, but really is it for the sake of the Kingdom or for the sake of my ego? God reminds me constantly that it is not about me but all about Him. The numbers do not matter – the individuals do. I guess what I am realising is it is much better to make an impact in the life of the one person who really needs it than to just be read by 99 sheep pen dwellers whose lives don’t need a massive transformation any more. Sure seeing that the website you set up has 800 fans is cool, but hearing from one person that what you wrote spoke to them and was just what they needed is way more satisfying. So often we focus on the numbers, but maybe today we need to let God remind us to focus on the individual. In the words of Mother Teresa “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Find that one person God is calling you to feed today, and do all you can for them rather than getting discouraged about the 99 you can’t feed.