THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

Do you ever have “thinking about things” days? Today is chilly and rainy, and somehow it seems right for a “thinking day.” So, pour your coffee (or tea!) and let’s do a little wondering…

How much air does a butterfly move when it flutters those incredibly beautiful, fragile wings? How far does that breath of air travel? What if a hundred butterflies fluttered their wings at once? Or, even greater, what if a million butterflies moved their wings to stir a million breaths of air at the same instant? There is a theory, although a highly improbable one, that if enough butterflies fluttered their wings at the same time, they could create a hurricane!

Let’s think some more…. Suppose someone throws a rock into the ocean. How far do the ripples go? Or what if a million people threw a million rocks into the ocean at the same location at the same time! Could those ripples create a tsunami?

By now you’re likely wondering where in the world this line of thinking is going! The first situation is known as “the butterfly effect”, and the second is known as “the ripple effect”, and they are actual things! What both situations have in common is that they point to the cumulative effect of something extremely small and insignificant.

Many years ago, my husband and I were having dinner with an older pastor friend. He looked at Dave and said, “David, God has gone to great lengths to see that you and I would be sitting across the table from one another tonight.” I’ve never forgotten that statement. My mind is completely boggled at how many big AND small decisions were made to make sure that dinner happened!

When starting piano lessons at the age of 10, I had no idea that decision would lead me to Spring Arbor College, where I both majored in Music Education and met my husband! That led to our marriage, having a family, spending 50 years in ministry, and our final walk together through cancer. And that all led me to where I am now as a widow, touching the hearts and lives of many other widows. The same is true for each of us.

God has gone to great lengths to see that you and I have crossed paths. I was born and raised in Michigan, and over the years we pastored in Michigan, South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska. We worked with Christ For the City International and ministered in a number of countries. All the events of our life together brought us to Omaha, where we encountered some brilliant surgeons and doctors at the Buffett Cancer Center when Dave needed them to care for him. And now, we have connected through Refocusing Widows! You see, every choice in life has a ripple effect.

The ability to make choices of our own free will is one of God’s most precious gifts to us. The Scriptures are full of hundreds of references to making choices. As we read them, it becomes exceedingly clear that while God will not interfere with our free will, He rejoices with us when we seek Him regarding our decisions.

You may be thinking that you are on this journey of being a widow because of something other than your own free will choice. I would have to completely agree with you! None of us ever chose to be “members of this club”! We may have read the statistics somewhere, but we never really thought WE would be the widows living alone and facing life’s challenges by ourselves! You may feel as though you arrived at this point in time through no fault of your own.

What I want us to think about, though, has more to do with the future than it does with the past. The butterfly effect has been at work in every one of our lives. All the small choices we’ve made over a lifetime have resulted in our being exactly where we are today! None of them can be changed!

So, today I have questions for each of you to consider. As we begin another new year, what choices will you make in the months ahead? How will your choices impact all of those around you whose lives you touch? Will any of your decisions this year have eternal consequences? We are in a time where we must consider all of our decisions and choices to have eternal significance.

Have you ever had someone begin a conversation with you this way: “I remember when you said….”? That is an example of the ripple effect at work. What we say, what we do, the choices and decisions we make…. All are examples of how the ripples move out to everyone and everything that our life touches.

This year let’s touch lives and situations with the butterfly breath of hope. Let’s see how far our ripples can go this year! I was reminded again this week of two scriptures that will help us in making decisions and choices.

James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”

I encourage you today to consider the impact your life has on so many others.

 

Your thoughts and comments are always welcome, and you can email me at sheryl@freshhope.us.

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