Throw a stone in the water, and it moves the water in a ripple much further than the original stone could have ever hoped to reach.
It’s a scientific principal learned by even the smallest of children. Don’t believe me? Come to my house during bath time and watch my toddler try it out. Tiny hands will plunge into the bath to create waves that splash over the edges far beyond the length of her body.
The ripple effect can work in water, in people, in ideas, in business… You get the idea. Unfortunately, this scientific phenomena isn’t always positive.
Let’s look at an actual scientific experiment that
has taken place in my house I read about somewhere.
One abandoned Lego in the den floor under the foot of one overtired and overbooked mama leads that mama to jump and shout out in pain. When she discovers the devil of a Lego stuck to the underside of her foot, she will holler (southern scientific term for shouting in a tone that produces kids to move quickly) for the child who left it.
Frustrated with the disorder that caused her pain, overtired mother will look around and notice all the disarray in her home and holler (southern scientific again) for the other children to come and clean.
The father enters the home just in time for the hollering and jumping and takes it upon himself to step in and take over with the children to ease the pain and frustration of hollering mama. Hollering mama is ATPONR (At The Point Of No Return) and snaps at unsuspecting father.
The now irritated father bellows at the children to come to the dinner table. They come sniffling over hurt feelings and harsh tones. ATPONR mother and irritated father sit down to dinner where they all eat in silence.
See? It’s scientific. Unfortunately, this describes my house more than I want to admit. I can blame the Lego, but I know that the true ripple creator is me.
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 NIV
Ever so often I have showers of blessings from a positive ripple. I had one last week while visiting the prison. I was greeting the men and preparing to teach them about the creative aspect of writing a sermon, and one man approached and handed me a yellow piece of paper.
“I wanted to give this to you,” he told me. “You inspired me to write it.” He had my immediate attention. Almost a year ago I stood in the gymnasium classroom of the state prison and taught these men how writing can be a ministry. He explained how after that class, he decided to write small devotions for the other prisoners. He added some graphics and printed them as small posters to place on the bulletin boards around the campus. He changes them out every week or so.
“The men are standing around by those bulletin boards a lot. I figured I’d give them something good to read. But you are the one who really inspired me to do it.” I listened to his words and stood speechless. Some of the hardest criminals would hear Truth because I inspired this man to write it.
But it didn’t start with me. It started with God. I spent time in His Word, which led me to Matthew 25.
“I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:36 NIV
Matthew 25 led me to write Sheep to the Right the book, which led me to the prison. (How can you write about visiting prison if you’ve never set foot in one?) Visiting prison led me to share with the men, which made their seminary professor ask me to come back and actually teach. Teaching led me to share how writing can be a ministry. And sharing that inspired this man to create devotional posters for the other prisoners.
It was a ripple effect.
You see, daily we are confronted with people, things and situations that can cause either a positive or negative ripple effect. We have to choose which way to send the ripples.
Don’t think God could use you to do something magnificent? Wrong again. God can do anything. If He can use a hollering, jumping up and down mama to make change in the lives of murderers and thieves. He can use you, too.
Take some time today and consider what kind of ripples you are sending. Are there some areas you know of that could use some positive ripples?