Wikipedia tells me that “A ripple effect occurs when an initial disturbance to a system propagates outward to disturb an increasingly larger portion of the system, like ripples expanding across the water when an object is dropped into it.” This may not be a very exciting opening sentence, but at least I didn’t continue to where the explanation gets into macroeconomics! What I really want you to think about is “Drop a stone into a lake and try to see how far out the ripples extend.”
A month ago I wrote about a book I had received as a Christmas present from one of our sons. That “Thursday’s Thirst” was shared by one recipient with her son (who has now been added to the emailing list). Afterwards he sent me a note. “My mom shared with me your St. Thomas message. I really enjoyed how you intertwined Tom Stanton’s book, “The Final Season” with scripture in your message. Going to Tiger Stadium with my dad is a wonderful memory that I will always carry. Tom Stanton is a great author and I have enjoyed all of his books.”
I shared that message with the son who gave me the book. That inspired him to find Tom Stanton on Face Book and send him a copy of the same “Thursday’s Thirst”. And believe it or not, he received a reply. “Thank you for sharing, Joel. Twenty-some years after publication, this comes as a touching surprise. Thanks for letting me know.” Yesterday I found a way to send an email to the author, with the hope of sending him today’s “Ripple Effect”. And, as a side benefit, two days ago the mom mentioned above, at her son’s urging, loaned me another one of Stanton’s books, “Terror in the City of Champions.”
Sometimes, though, ripples can come back at you. The theme of my Wednesday this week was, “Never at the place I said I’d be at the time I said I’d be.” A one hour special project at 9:00 turned into two hours (more on that later). My 10:00 graciously postponed until 11:00. My 11:00 asked for a delay before I could. Then something I said I could do before 1:00 was pushed back to 4:00, and then 5:30! Two or three additional pebbles were dropped into the pond that caused the ripples of my day to go in multiple directions.
Somewhere around a dozen years ago I performed a wedding, but I do not recall the bride’s name. Quite a few years later her grandfather died, and I was asked by the family to do the funeral. Now, five years after the funeral, the bride’s aunt contacted STL to donate a like new washer/drier (among other things). Rescuing those appliances from a basement and delivering them to a new home was this morning’s “special project.” How is that for a “ripple effect”! My day became a mess, but people in our community were blessed (and I received two framed pictures from the 1984 Tigers as a side benefit!).
How often do you think about the ripple effect caused by your life? While using different illustrations, Jesus talks about this topic in many of his parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” (Matthew 13.33) “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5.13-16)
On the day of your baptism something incredible happened. In addition to becoming a forgiven child of God and an heir of eternal life, he also made you to be yeast, salt, and a light of the world! God now has intentionally dropped you and me into the pond of this world with a specific ripple effect in mind. And, as I am sure you know, that purpose he has in mind is not to bring a curse on those you touch. Rather, as we are told, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4.29)
I don’t really know what’s going to happen today, but if this week he used a ripple effect that was started a dozen years ago to bless our community, I know that most anything is possible … and not just for me, but also for you. This also has me wondering what God has in mind for the Stanton, et al ripples. I pray that you are as excited as I am.