The Ripple Effect
A young boy made a toy boat and then went to sail it on a pond. While he was playing with it along the water’s edge, the boat floated out beyond his reach. In his distress he asked an older boy to help him. Without saying a word, the older child picked up some stones and started to throw them toward the boat.
The little boy became upset, for he thought that the one he had turned to for help was being mean. Soon, though, he noticed that instead of hitting the boat, each stone was directed beyond it, making a small ripple that moved the vessel a little nearer to the shore. Every throw of the stone was planned, and at last the treasured toy was brought back to his waiting hands.
Sometimes it seems as if God allows circumstances into our lives that are harming us and are without sense or plan. We may be sure, though, that these waves of trial are intended to bring us nearer to Himself, to encourage us to set our minds “on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). Because we are prone to drift away from Him, the Lord must discipline us to get us back on the right course (Hebrews 12:9-11).
Drop a pebble in a pond on a still day. It’s amazing how far the ripples travel. The way we live our lives each day, and the influence we have on those around us, is like a series of expanding concentric circles, spreading outward from the center. In the modern age that we live in, those ripples of influence can literally reach around the world.
If I toss a stone into a still pond, the ripples will immediately emanate from the point of entry. It is a simple task to follow the ripples until it dissipates. If I toss multiple stones, multiple ripples will emanate and soon cross, forming yet other ripples. Adding just a few stones, makes it increasingly difficult to trace the path of each ripple and intersecting ripples. Now suppose that each stone represented a person and each ripple represented their actions and effect upon another. Would you be able to follow 1 or 2 stones? Probably. But what about 20, 50 or 7.5 billion-the number of people in your immediate neighborhood, friends, and inhabiting the world? I certainly cannot, but God is able.
As I reflect upon this example, I am in awe over how God oversees everything in His Creation. Sometimes it is easy to see the immediate effects of our actions upon another. If we are cruel or kind to someone, the effects upon the recipient are usually obvious. But what about actions that may appear neutral in outcome and behavior? How do these actions impact others? And what if the actions and effects are not manifest for weeks or even years to follow?
For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. Psalms 135:5-6 (ESV)
Like the stones forming ripples, the actions of everyone in this world are overseen and connected to God. If I cannot immediately see the results of my actions, it does not mean the connections are not there. It means my finite mind cannot begin to comprehend the intricate and complex connections that God is orchestrating.
If everyone’s actions create a ripple, it is incomprehensible to follow and trace the interactions for each of these ripples. Understanding God’s complete purpose is no different. It is only because of my arrogance and pride that I think I can understand how God works in everyone's lives and within His creation. In reality, God does whatever He pleases, in Heaven and earth, for His pleasure, to establish His Kingdom.
Instead of questioning how, we should be praising God. For God inhabits the praises of His people. Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.
Ripples in the Pond - Paul Harman
Our Daily Bread
Stones & Ripples – Gareth Robinson
Ripples – Michael T. Ramel
Live No Lies - John Mark Comer