The lake behind our new home is my new happy place.
Each morning as I watch the sunrise over the horizon and see the collage of color and images it creates on the still water, my tired soul quiets and my guarded heart opens a little more.
One thing particularly fascinates me. The ripples made in the water by any movement just below or on the surface.
- A bass hits the surface to find its wriggling breakfast…ripples.
- A duck playfully paddles across the pond…ripples.
- A turtle pokes its tiny head through the liquid membrane…ripples.
- A tiny water bug skims across the glassy surface…ripples.
- A cool breeze wafts its way from seashore to the east…ripples.
It doesn’t take much to disturb the surface, and once the ripples start they become minute waves that don’t stop until they hit the shore.
Watching the water’s natural response to even the tiniest impact reminds me that nearly every decision and subsequent action in my life creates ripples that impact people all around me. It begins with those nearest to me but often touches and moves on to those I hardly know.
Degrees of separation erased by the ripples of life lived.
I think of people I know intimately or at a distance touched by my own life. Then there is the way I have been moved–toward good or evil–by the choices and actions of other lives.
There is a dark side to this.
- A lie is told to cover up a mistake and prop up a reputation…ripples.
- A compromise is made as a tiny escape from a reality barnacled in boredom…ripples.
- A little money is siphoned to meet an urgent need with the best intention to return it…ripples.
- A child’s concert is missed because the overtime earned is more important…ripples.
But there is also another side.
- An anonymous gift is given at a moment of crisis and saves a family from eviction…ripples
- A kind word is spoken to a bereaved heart and is the morsel of hope needed to go on…ripples.
- A meal is prepared and provided when a family is wondering if there will be dinner at all…ripples.
- A boy is given a loving home after years of being overlooked at adoption parties…ripples.
You get the idea.
Ripples are the small things that make a big difference in the life and future of those touched by the waves.
Adam and Eve decide their way is better than God’s…and the rest is history. Isaac and Rebekah choose sides with their boys…and millennia later, the two sides are still fighting. David chooses not to go to war with his troops…an affair is inflamed and a family imploded.
But the other side of the story…
Abraham chooses to obey the inexplicable command of God…and on that mountain we learn about the Lamb slain. Esther risks life and limb to carry her burden to the King…and a Chosen People still stand today. Jesus lays down His life in the face of ultimate cruelty…and the rest is eternity.
These are soul disturbances that travel across miles, seasons and relationships. They change courses of history and pathways of destiny.
They even span generations.
Good or evil can be carried on the waves set in motion by the choices we make and the chances we take. The interplay between our lives is far more substantial than we want to realize. We are interconnected at levels we scarcely acknowledge.
These ripples tend to increase in size, carrying greater and greater impact over time and distance.
Alcoholism and abuse ripple and amplify over generations. Ministry or musical gifts seem to flow in family lines. What is sowed in my generation is often reaped–as a harvest of blessing or a bushel of pain–by many generations to follow.
Someone back there somewhere made a choice and it made a difference in my life. I make such choices now for those who follow.
These thoughts hit me at a deep place in my soul. I know I have started ripples with my life that have cascaded pain into the lives of others. I pray I have started other ripples that have sent some in the direction of Jesus.
Jesus was talking about this influence when he said we already are, just as we are, the only light and salt on this earth (Matthew 5:12-13). The Apostle Paul spoke of this interdependence when he said “For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.” (Romans 14:7).
I am challenged to look at my daily choices–big or small–and ask myself, “What effect will this have on those around me?”
- Will I make decisions that promote healing?
- Will I set priorities that will create opportunity?
- Will I speak words that instill hope?
- Will I offer love that will move boundaries and breach walls?
- Will I embrace truth that dispels darkness and displays authenticity?
- Will I reflect the heart of Jesus that changes everything for someone?
Too much of my life is lived on auto-pilot. The consequences of my speech and actions are frequently ignored in the panicked pace of survival mode.
I need to slow down enough to have time to consider the impact I am making, the example I am setting and the legacy I am leaving in the mind-numbing reality of the daily.
Funny thing about ripples is you can’t stop them once you start them.
Choose wisely, my friend.