Saturday, August 22, 2015

Only One

We all remember the story Jesus told of the Good Shepherd who was willing to leave 99 sheep safe in the fold while He searched for the one who was missing. I’ve always felt kinship to that story because most of my life’s ministries have been to just one person at a time.

My children are 7 years apart in age so that I’ve joked that I essentially raised two “onlys.”   The most effective portion of my teaching career consisted of individualized interventions for troubled readers. And when I’ve taught Sunday school over the years – well, let’s just say I’ve never drawn a crowd. Many Sundays I’ve presented my carefully prepared lessons to just one or two students. 

My books are not best sellers; they average just one sale a week at Amazon. And the past eleven years I’ve taken care of just one little old lady, my mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. 

Through this lifetime of service to “ones,” the Lord has taught me that He views success very differently than we do.  We look at quarterly gains, area covered, and dollars earned, and if the numbers are pleasing we call ourselves successful.  But in God’s economy, individual lives are of inestimable worth.  

My friend, Abby, over at Little Birdie Blessings, recently posted a link to this blog on her Facebook page (Abby’s blog is beautiful and encouraging, check it out). The quote she shared reached thousands of people, and one lady—just one—said that my blog had been helpful to her on that day. I just smiled because I realized that this woman is so precious to the Lord that it was not too much for Him to spur me to write the helpful blog post and then touch Abby’s willing heart to share it, all so that this one woman who is so precious to our Lord could be helped. 

God doesn’t count success as we do.  The very young and the very old are neglected members of our society; these vulnerable lives are so easily overlooked. They can’t take care of themselves and so God calls us to be vessels for His tender care. When we offer our hands and hearts to the Lord in service to just one person in need, we are pleasing to Him. 

Caregiving and parenting are difficult assignments and often frustrating, but we can put to rest any thought that we aren’t accomplishing very much in this world when the needs of just one person keep us busy. In God’s eyes, that one individual is of great worth, and we are following in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd when we spend ourselves on behalf of just one.


  1. Dear Linda, I believe many more than one were helped by your quote, even though just one woman said she visited you. We don't know what God is doing in the background, He just asks us to be faithful, as you are doing. One may have commented, but your words reached 2,373 people.

    Here's your quote I used: Remember that although you are cemented to a specific point in time, God is above time and space. He is sovereign over your past, present, and future, and nothing is beyond His reach: "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17)

    1. Thank you, Abby, your gift of encouragement has blessed my life (and many others). That the Lord only lets me know about "the one" is my constant reminder that my portion is to obey and not encroach on God's part--I need to leave the fruits His hands! My worriment over numbers reminds me of the Dept. of Education's concerns concern with student test scores--they are looking at the wrong measures for signs of success!

    2. That quote is from the September 17, 2014 entry at this blog entitled "How to Grieve Like a Christian." It will appear as an appendix in the book I'm working on now, "One Hundred Days to Freedom." Here's a link that will take readers directly to the post:

  2. Hi Linda,
    I came by today to let you know that I was able to rest this afternoon and read 3 more chapters in your book. I'm nearing the half way mark. I had a crazy, busy summer with very little time to enjoy reading. I just didn't want you to think that I had fallen off the face of the earth! :-)

    1. Hi Georgene--thanks so much for touching base today. If you ever want to email me, do so through the contact page on my webpage and then when I respond you'll have my email address. Praying for you to have more time in your life to be Mary--though I'm always comforted that Scripture specifically says Jesus loved Martha (John 11:5)-- maybe even because of all her hard work. Although He reminds us to be sure to chose the better portion, labor is a necessary and God-supported part of our Kingdom work. God bless you, Georgene, in all your Kingdom labor. You are precious in His sight--and I appreciate you too!