Yesterday, William, my now ten-year-old son, told me something that stopped me in my tracks, cut me to the quick, and really convicted me about how important my role in his life is. During home group on Monday, he came out of his hiding spot and sat in while we were talking. He had his head buried in his iPad and would throw in a thought here and there, but generally, he did he own thing. While we were coming back from the store yesterday, he told me that he was happy that he had sat with us in home group because he had been really amazed by a story that someone had told, and – here’s the big moment – that story had convinced him that Jesus and God were real. Whoa. That’s big stuff, folks.In a moment that I didn’t think that my child was even paying attention he became convicted that Jesus Christ was real.
We had spoken earlier in the night about the ripple effect. About how our words and actions can have far reaching consequences that we couldn’t even imagine. How a throwaway comment can affect someone, maybe sour their mood, which in turn rubs off on the people around them, which affects more people, until hundreds of people can be effect by something we didn’t even think was a big deal. Or how our actions as parents rub off on our children, which then not only rubs off on their peers but onto THEIR children, setting up generational ideas and beliefs that reach out far beyond our deaths. How a story that I didn’t even think my child was listening to could strengthen their belief in Jesus, creating a Christian who, with encouragement and love, continues his walk, strengthens in his convictions, and raises Christian children and grandchildren and greats and on and on.
Let’s look at a few scenarios. You’re driving with your fish emblem on your car. Another driver cuts you off which enrages you. You start to cuss and scream, you ride that car’s tail, lay on your horn. Meanwhile, behind you, someone who has been hurt by the church observes all of this and notices your fish. What ripple does your road rage cause?
You give some money to a cause which fights human trafficking. Across the country, a woman is saved. She’s been plied with drugs, beaten within an inch of her life, and forced into acts that degrade and shame her. She’s felt for a long time that she will die living in slavery; she’s lost all hope. She is brought to a safe house with Christian values. They don’t necessarily shove Christian values and bible teachings down her throat, but they do show her compassion, kindness, they feed and clothe her, they provide her safety, they find her counseling, they help her mend. What ripple effect does your contribution cause?
You get in a fight with your spouse. In the heat of the moment, you shout things at him or her that you know will cut deeply. You scream obscenities and slam doors because you are just SO angry. In another room, your teenager had put on their headphones and turned up their music as loud as they can, but somehow it still isn’t drowning out the fight. What ripple has been caused?
We will never be perfect. We will say and do things that hurt people because we are fallible. But if we try to remain conscious of our words and actions those moments will happen less and less, and our ripple can be for good and not otherwise.