Jo Marks

Small actions can have a big impact

Jo Marks explains how an experience at traffic lights in Iceland allowed her to reflect on simple acts of kindness

I think often in our lives we underestimate the long-term lasting impact and possible wonderful consequences that a simple act of kindness, thoughtfulness or love can make. I am reminded of the act of four friends who lowered their paralysed friend to Jesus. On facing the crowds and the challenge they could have chosen to not try, to leave it for another day. But, instead, their act of kindness had massive, life-changing repercussions.

One New Year’s Eve we had just landed in Northern Iceland in a town called Akureyri. We boarded the coach to take us to our hotel and our holiday rep began his welcome narrative. As we drove through the blizzard of snow this man’s obsession with the traffic lights in the town became increasingly bizarre.

I, on the other hand, thought we were experiencing a minor miracle as each set was on green. Then to the delight of the rep, they turned to red! He quickly gesticulated for everyone to look out of the window. To my delight, the red stop sign was the shape of a red love heart. Every set of traffic lights in the town had red love hearts as the stop command.

Now I needed a photo! I was strongly suggesting to my husband, two sons, brother and nephew (where are the girls when you need them?) to get their phones out. Let’s face it, their phones are always in their hands but none of them seemed keen.


So I frantically clicked away! The rep continued to explain that in 2008 – when the country was in financial crisis and things were very difficult – an artist in the town gave each business a red ceramic heart. She had made them to remind people to be kind and generous to each other, remaining positive even in the darkest of moments.

Little did she know her small act would result in the decision being made to change every red traffic light in the town to continue to remind people of the importance of kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity at all times.

Little did the man’s friends know that on reaching Jesus he would be healed and walk out of that home carrying his mat! I reckon he even helped fix the roof! Never underestimate what God can do with your ideas and actions. Your one small action may be the catalyst to your miracle. Your single act may become the influencer of many.

Each time you have to stop at a red traffic light, why not consider who you can bless, who you can encourage and who you can pray for? Remember to write that card, send that text, make that phone call – you do not know what the impact might be.

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