An Asterisk

by Jefferson David Tant

You recognize that, don’t you? It’s an asterisk. It is pretty small and may feel insignificant. In fact, many people look right over it when they see it in print. It refers to something at the bottom of the page. I wonder if it ever gets discouraged, thinking no one pays attention to it. But an asterisk does have a useful function and purpose, even though it may be small and sometimes overlooked.

I have known people who were looked upon as asterisks. They may have resigned themselves to the fact that they don’t contribute much, so are content to sit on the sidelines. They may feel discouraged or sorry for themselves. But as the song says, “There is room in the kingdom…”

What are your limitations? Does illness hinder you? A physical handicap? Are you older and without youthful energy? Does a lack of education limit you? Do others overlook or belittle you? Are you limited because of little money? Various things may cause some to draw within themselves, content with being a spiritual asterisk.

But it need not be that way. I have known so many through the years who overcame many hindrances to be effective servants of God. Let me cite a few.

  • Marian White was born with crippling arthritis. Her little body was twisted and painful. She could not even properly care for herself. But rather than wallowing in “Why me?” pity, she used her mind to write Bible literature for children. Her Bible Storybooks were widely used. She had a good sense of humor and was a delight to know.
  • Terry Cocson was lame. He walked with a cane and took 6-inch steps. He lived a simple life in the Philippines. I recall meeting him and learning that he had walked four hours to come to gospel preaching. If he never did anything else in his life, his example has now gone to other nations. Some Americans would not even drive an air-conditioned car four hours to hear preaching, and certainly would not walk, even in good health.
  • The last years of Hortense Hudgins’ life were pretty well home-bound. Her husband had worked as a drummer (an old term for a traveling salesman) into his 90s. In her 90s, Hortense was still teaching and converted her caregiver to Christ.
  • Don Sadler had Parkinson’s disease beginning in his 40s. In his later years, the severity of his condition greatly affected his mobility and speech. But he met with the saints every time the doors were open even though it was difficult. Sometimes he fell while walking to his seat, but his devotion to the Lord was such an encouragement to all who knew him. He also had some cards printed for everyone that had a Scripture reminder on it.
  • Margaret Head was still nursing, even in her late 80s. She went here and there tending to those who benefitted from her loving care, even traveling 1,000 miles to care for them.
  • I knew Pappy Obsorne in my first work among Oklahoma’s Choctaw Indians. In his 80s, he wasn’t able to do much. But he did find things to do. He greeted every visitor to our little congregation and made sure every songbook was put in its rack after our services.
  • Mid McNight told of a man who was converted at age 80. A former atheist, he had debated preachers on God’s existence. After baptism, he was bedfast for 3½ years before and after heart surgery. One time when hospitalized with both palsy and cancer, he remarked, “Since I have obeyed the gospel of Christ, I have led 21 souls to Christ, and if the Lord lets me live a little longer, I have 12 or 14 more just about ready to obey.”
  • And there was Arie Brannan in Tampa, Florida. Arie spent her last years in an assisted living place. As the caregivers assisted her, she assisted them. How? By teaching them the gospel. I don’t know how many she taught during her time there, but I do know of at least two who were baptized, and one of those conversions came after Arie turned 100.

I have known of saints who may be confined to home, but who are still able to write notes of encouragement or make phone calls to encourage others. And there are others who are active in sending out Bible Correspondence Courses, or who make it a practice to care for those who are sick or otherwise in need of some help.

There are young people like Love Joy (yes, that’s her real name). This 13-year-old Philippine girl invited three of her friends to come to a country-side home where I was preaching. They walked for some distance over dirt roads. At the invitation, her three friends stepped forward, asking to be baptized into Christ.

There was an occasion many years ago when Jesus was visiting a home in Bethany. While eating dinner, a woman came and anointed his head with a costly ointment. His disciples were upset and murmured against her. This was not some great deed she had done in the eyes of others, but Christ took note of it, and told his disciples, “Let her alone … she has done what she could” (Mark 14:3-8).

Do you remember the widow Christ commended? “And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on" (Mark 12:42-44).

"For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward” (Mark 9:41). That’s all the Lord asks of us, to do what we can, even if we are an asterisk. If you will look and inquire, surely you can at least give a cup of cold water.

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