Frost covered my front yard early one morning recently. In late January the trees were barren of leaves and the sky was gray.
As I pulled out of my driveway and started down the street it was a drab scene except for three sunny yellow daffodils that dared to brave the elements and bloom. They stood in sharp contrast to their dull surroundings. Their presence was an expression of hope.
Winter had not had its last say but the daffodils were proclaiming that sunnier and warmer days were just ahead. It was a risky venture for them to poke out their heads knowing that there would still be some cold and maybe frigid days ahead.
I was grateful for the courage of these tender plants and I was encouraged. New life was present. Spring was not far away.
The start of spring training is an anticipated event for baseball fans. Pitchers and hitters have already begun their warm-ups. Atlanta Braves pitchers and catchers report to Orlando on February 19 to begin in earnest their preparation for the regular season. It is a sure sign that the climate is about to change for the better.
When Blake Mycoskie was a participant in the CBS television show The Great American Race, he noticed how many children in Argentina did not have adequate footwear. Because of this they were getting sick or injured and, since they had no shoes, were not permitted to attend school.
When Mr. Mycoskie returned to the United States he took an idea to TOMS shoes and struck a deal with them. TOMS agreed to donate a pair of shoes for every pair that was bought. As a result thousands of Argentina's children now have good shoes.
A similar thing occurred a few years ago when Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly wrote about the United Nations fight against malaria. United Methodists joined with several national organizations to provide bed nets and many thousands of lives have been saved since 2006. The goal is to eradicate malaria by 2015.
In the summer of 2008 Eric and Jessica Lee moved to Bartow County with a vision for a new United Methodist Church in the Cartersville-White area. They had no people and no place but they had a passion for the task. Eric gathered a group of followers of Jesus and began meeting in the conference room of a local hotel. They met regularly for worship and held events and community service projects to invite and involve people in a church that was truly interested in changing lives and bridging gaps to the community.
Three and a half years later the small group has grown. 90 people were received as charter members as The Bridge United Methodist Church was officially constituted on Sunday, January 29, 2012. 70 of them were professions of faith or persons who had not been involved in a church for a long period of time. 15 or 20 more are expected to join within the next month. This congregation now has 160-180 people in worship every Sunday and they are making a difference in the lives of many in their community.
Each of us has opportunities to make a difference. To bring hope and help to our world. What idea has God planted in your mind and heart? What need do you see that moves you to want to find a solution? Who in your circle of influence do you need to reach out to?
Just like those daffodils, all we have to do is bloom where we are planted. Act on our urgings with God's guidance. The landscape may be harsh. The ground may be cold and hard but we are presented with an abundance of opportunities to make a difference. Let's brave the elements and share the warmth of God's love. God will bless our efforts. I believe that. Do you?
[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," Feb. 6, 2012.North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]