I’m Just Here to Love

There were two themes that really pressed on me as I read Chapter 1 of Kisses from Katie. The first was how great the task is that faces me as I strive and desire to make a difference in the world. The second was how simple the task that faces me really is. And if you notice, those are two seemingly conflicting themes.

Katie refers to this task as “trying to empty the ocean with an eyedropper.”

Oh, how I know that feeling!

Many times, I’ve stood in medical clinics in Third World countries and stared a line of patients that I couldn’t see the end of. And even as we would call more patients in to be seen by doctors, the line would grow instead of shrink. Much like Katie, I thought, “We’re trying to put out a forest fire with a water pistol!”

But the point that Katie makes is that we will never empty the ocean—or put out the forest fire. We don’t have to. We just have to love people through it all. So today, I’m going to share a story that I’ve shared here once before that I think really embodies Katie’s point in a real, graphic, and hopefully moving way. I hope it makes you as angry as it made me. And I hope that the anger moves you to love someone.

A few years ago, Bill Wilson of Metro Ministries in New York, came to speak on the campus where I work. He told the story of a Hispanic lady, whose name I can’t recall. She was an older lady and she spoke almost no English, but she came to Bill and through an interpreter said, “Pastor Bill, I want to help with your Sidewalk Sunday School ministry.”

In all honesty, Bill couldn’t see how the little old woman who spoke almost no English could help the ministry. But he was so touched by her willingness that he asked if she would agree to ride one of the buses that picked up the children for Sunday School. She could be a sort of bus monitor to help keep an eye on the children while the driver was busy navigating traffic.

She readily agreed and the first day on the bus, a little boy boarded. She had no way of knowing that this particular little boy of maybe five years old had never spoken a word to anyone in Sunday School. The bus drivers and bus monitors and Sunday School teachers all tried to get him to talk, but he wouldn’t even tell them his name. But she had no way of knowing that and on her first day on the bus, she reached out and took him into her lap. From then on, each day, the little old Hispanic lady would pull the boy into her lap as he boarded the bus. And he would let her, but he never would speak. But the bus driver noticed that she was whispering into the boy’s ear.

After a number of weeks, the bus driver mentioned the curious scene to Pastor Bill and summoning a translator, he asked her what she was saying to the boy. It turns out she did know a bit of English. And she was saying to him one phrase that she knew quite well and she was saying it over and over again.

I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Some more weeks passed, each time was the same. The boy boarded the bus and climbed in her lap and she whispered to him the entire ride to Sunday School and the entire ride home. And one day, as he climbed off her lap at his stop, he turned and took her face into his five-year-old hands and whispered, “I love you, too!” And he hopped off the bus and ran into his apartment building.

That night, Pastor Bill got a phone call from a friend of his on the police force. The body of a small boy had been found by a dumpster at that apartment building. He had been beaten to death with a baseball bat and stuffed into a garbage bag and dumped like so much trash.

But some of the last words he ever heard were, “I love you.”

My heart aches and grieves and breaks over all of the people in the world that suffer unspeakable horrors on a daily basis and never know that they’re loved.

I think that a lot of us feel that we’re too small to make a difference. Our voices are too soft. Our means are too limited. We don’t have the right skills. We should just live our lives and let others make a difference. But what if this little Hispanic grandmother had felt that way? She had no money. No education. She couldn’t speak the language. The leaders weren’t even sure they wanted her there. But she had love and to that little boy, it made all the difference in the world.

I have always wondered how God could ever use me. I’m a short, overweight, blotchy-faced girl from one of the poorest counties in North Carolina. I don’t have money or an affluent background. I didn’t go to an Ivy League college – or even to a Bible college. I don’t have any really significant skills. I’m not a doctor or a nurse or a preacher. I’m a secretary who drives a car that’s broken more than its fixed, with paint peeling off its hood like it has leprosy. I live below poverty level in yet another poor county of my state. What do I really have to offer?

All I can offer is to sit in the gutters and ditches if that’s what it takes to show people the love of Christ. Because I know that’s what He did for me. And for you. He picks us up out of the gutters and the ditches and carries us home. And I won’t be afraid that I’m not enough. Because I know I’m not enough. But in the power of Christ, I’ll sit in the ditches and gutters, whispering, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” To anyone who needs to hear.

As Katie said: “That love is the reason I just keep filling up my little eyedropper, keeping filling it up and emptying my ocean one drop at a time. I’m not here to eliminate poverty, to eradicate disease, to put a stop to people abandoning babies. I’m just here to love.”

Me, too, Katie. Me, too.

This post is part of a weekly discussion that several of my friends and I are having about the book Kisses from Katie. If you have written a reaction to this post, please feel free to link it up at the link widget below. I will be out of town. In the event of any issues with the widget, please put your links in the comments. And please, be sure to go read the other posts in this week’s discussion—especially my co-facilitator, Jason Stasyszen

About Sarah Salter


  1. We are not called to empty the ocean… We are called to follow.
    We are not on our own even able to wield the eyedropper… We are empowered by Him.

    Our purpose is to follow Him. Our life is to live out His love, just as He loves us.

  2. This post was so encouraging- like you I earn less than minimum wage and cannot financially make a difference- but I know that offering love to the many students at the high school where I work had made a very real difference to some- who have such harsh lives and know little love. some a love-starved- i feel my job is to offer them unconditional love- and they love receiving it.
    Love is not the least we can offer- it is the greatest gift we can offer, I feel.
    May I subscribe to this by email please?
    Many blessings from down-under, in New Zealand.

  3. I have said the same about being a foster parent. I tell the kids “I love you” as much as possible. So many say, “You’re not their real parent so why bother, why get attached” and the simple answer is, we are the only family they have at the moment. Maybe they’ll remember down the line that someone did care, someone did love and that will make a difference in their lives. Totally understand what you mean, Sarah. Thanks so much.

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