There are so many people in the world. This was the thought Ruby had as she looked around from her seat on a bench in the grocery store. She was waiting for her mom to finish shopping, passing the time by watching the people come and go.
An elderly couple exited the store. The man rode an electric scooter, while his wife pushed the shopping cart. As they went out, a couple with a toddler and a baby in a blue and gray carrier came in. Then a man wearing overalls and a hat with the name of a welding business hurried out of the store with a gallon of milk. There was a lull before a girl, probably around Ruby’s age, came in. Sometimes there were spaces in between the groups who came and went, but on the whole, there was an endless flow of people.
Often when she was out and about and saw constant streams of cars or crowds of people, Ruby would have similar thoughts. She felt overwhelmed, as though she couldn’t make a difference in the world or really help people when there were so many of them.
After all, she told herself, if I gave a gospel tract to every person I saw today, that would be nothing compared to all the people in this one town. There are so many people in the world that it doesn’t seem like one person like me could make much of a difference.
Ruby absentmindedly read the t-shirt of the teenage boy entering the store. Do for one what you wish you could do for all. As the boy continued walking, her mind began to register what she had just read. Do for one what you wish you could do for all. (Author of quote unknown)
Wow! Now that certainly goes with what I was thinking about. Of course, I can’t help everyone, but I shouldn’t let that stop me from helping someone.
Ruby reached inside her skirt pocket and fingered the gospel tract she had put there before getting out of the car. Lord, who should I give this to? she asked silently. Please guide me to the right person.
A minute passed, and then a middle-aged man sat down on the other end of the bench.
I wonder if this is the one. Ruby thought. She didn’t know what to say. Starting conversations with strangers was one of her most dreaded things to do. Fortunately, the man seemed more comfortable with starting conversations than she was.
“Are you waiting for someone too?” He smiled at Ruby.
“Yes, I am.” She smiled back.
“Well, I could be here a while.” He crossed his legs and leaned back to emphasize the point. “My wife is looking at flower seeds for her garden, so I could be here all day.”
Ruby laughed at the look of despair he gave her. They continued talking, moving on to the weather and how unseasonably warm it had been lately. Well, the man did most of the talking, and Ruby smiled and made some comments.
A few minutes later, Ruby saw her mom approaching, pushing a cart full of bagged groceries. Ruby stood and pulled her hand out of her pocket. “It was nice getting to visit with you.” She grinned. “Maybe this will give you something to look at until your wife gets done buying seeds.”
The man chuckled and took the tract. “Thanks. It was nice chatting.”
Ruby followed her mom out the door, her heart warm. She hadn’t helped everyone she had seen, but God had given her the opportunity to make a difference in one life.
As they were driving down the road their family lived on, Ruby noticed the tall grass and untidy landscaping of their neighbor. Mrs. Timmons was an elderly lady they had helped before and enjoyed visiting.
“I hope Mrs. Timmons is all right. She doesn’t usually let her yard look like that.”
Mrs. Randall glanced out Ruby’s window. “I’ll have to call her when we get home and see.”
At home, Ruby unloaded the groceries, and, with Amber’s help, put them into the refrigerator and pantry. Mrs. Randall came out of her bedroom just as the girls were finishing.
“I just talked to Mrs. Timmons. Her grandson who usually mows her lawn is laid up with a broken leg. Mrs. Timmons has been sick and hasn’t felt like working in her flower beds. I told her we would come over and get her yard back into shape for her.”
* * * * *
The next morning, Mrs. Randall and the four youngest children pulled into the lane in front of Mrs. Timmons’ house. The shaggy grass looked even worse up close. Mrs. Timmons came out onto the porch to meet them, her wrinkled face beaming.
“You all are too kind. Too kind.”
Mrs. Randall gave her a hug. “We’re just glad we can help. It was Ruby who noticed everything didn’t seem to be well.”
“Thank you, Ruby. You have a kind heart.”
Ruby returned the lady’s hug.
Jasper got the lawnmower out of the shed and began to mow the front yard. Going into the backyard that was mostly shaded by trees, Amber and Mica began to pick up the fallen branches that had accumulated over the winter. Ruby slipped on her leather gloves, handed her mom a matching pair, and then knelt down beside a flower bed.
Beautiful irises and shamrocks were blooming, making Ruby smile with pleasure at their beauty. The weeds were also alive and well, and Ruby and her mom had their work cut out for them, pulling the pesky plants and digging up a few stubborn ones that were too tough to be pulled.
After nearly an hour had passed, Mrs. Timmons reappeared from the house. “I think it’s time for you hard workers to rest now. Y’all come on in. I’ve got ice water and fried pies for you.”
“You shouldn’t have gone to any trouble,” Mrs. Randall scolded. “You need to be taking care of yourself.”
Mrs. Timmons laughed heartily. “I think I’m old enough to know when I need to rest. Besides, y’all are the ones who need the rest. The fried pies are store-bought. I just heated them up.”
Mrs. Timmons’ laughter was contagious, and they all joined her as they followed her into the house.
Ruby leaned back on the couch with her fried pie. She popped open one end of the tiny box and let the pie slide into her hand. Taking a bite, she felt the warm cherry juice rush into her mouth as the flaky crust crumbled between her teeth.
“Thank you so much, Mrs. Timmons. I haven’t had a fried pie in ages.”
“You’re quite welcome,” Mrs. Timmons said, biting into her own pie. “I really appreciate you all taking the time to help me. It seems like these days everyone gets so busy with their own lives and forgets to take time to help someone else or even to notice that there is a need. I appreciate you noticing and your mom calling.”
Ruby nibbled at her pie, savoring the mixture of tart and sweet, listening to her mom and Mrs. Timmons discuss the health of a few mutual friends. She looked at a tiny cross-stitch picture on the end table beside Mrs. Timmons’ recliner. It had Matthew 25:40 stitched on it in gold letters, surrounded by a trailing wreath of grapes.
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
“Unto ONE. Not to everyone. Not to crowds. To one. God cares about each person, not just the masses. And, that’s what He wants from me too. He wants to love one person at a time through me.” Ruby popped the last bite of pie into her mouth and wiped her sticky fingers on a napkin. She was ready to continue pulling weeds for the one person God had brought across her path to help right then.
Is there one person the Lord has laid on your heart? Pray for them and follow His leading to bless them! What other things could we do to bless someone the Lord lays on our hearts?
Until next time, reach out to someone and show them the love of Jesus!