the doomsday clock is two minutes to midnite. that insane orange haired man is in the white house. everywhere we see tragedy, disasters, corruption… what can I/me- one person- possibly do to make any kind of meaningful difference in a time such as this?
I know exactly what you do my friend- paint your wagon.
Some of you have probably heard the story before but it is simple profound and memorable.
The little boy finds a can of red paint, and paints his wagon. Proud of the shiny new wagon that the coat of paint has produced, he pulls it around front and puts it in front of the garage where everyone can see it. When his father gets home, he notices the shiny new wagon and praises the son for his working hard and making the wagon look like new again.
Pa noticed something else when he looked at the shiny new wagon: the garage behind the wagon looked terrible. Faded, peeling paint, stains, dirt. Well, naturally, now Pa has to paint the garage.
As they stand back and admire the shiny new wagon, and shiny new garage, Ma notices that the house next to the garage and wagon suddenly doesn’t look so good.
Well, you can probably see by now where this is going. The neighbor has to paint his house too and soon the whole neighborhood, and then, the whole town has got a new coat of paint and looks fantastic. Travelers through the town notice, take it back, and it goes viral as we say today. Soon the whole world looks brighter because of the one little boy who painted his wagon.
the real deal
One of my favorite scriptures, in which Jesus so eloquently explains this concept is Matthew 5: 14-16
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
This is what you can do. We are all part of something bigger. You never know when something you say or do will make a big difference in someone else’s life. You never know when someone desperately needs to see some light.
If your light always shines, it will shine when it matters
You don’t paint your wagon, and then put it in the closet. You load it up and take it down the street. You give rides in it. You let that shiny new wagon bring joy, like it is supposed to.
Don’t be surprised when you realize you have made a difference, you have made things better around you. If you do that, you have made the world a better place.
And also, don’t be surprised if your shiny new wagon doesn’t inspire anyone else. Even if the whole town stays faded, peeling, worn- you can be happy that you have the best wagon around. It is there in case anyone ever wants a ride.
Let your light shine. Paint your wagon.
That is the real deal.