When I was a boy, my dad and I would sit in front of the TV and watch the show Kung Fu starring David Carradine. In each episode, Carradine’s Kwai Chang Caine would often flash back to his days as a boy under the tutelage of Master Po who would teach young Caine life’s greatest lessons.
One such lesson came from dropping a tiny pebble into a barrel of water. How could it be that such a speck of a pebble could send such large ripples throughout the entire barrel?
Master Po’s lesson is similar to one that my dad has repeated over the years:
These lives we lead have more of an impact on other people than we can possibly imagine.
Likewise, to paraphrase Andy Andrews in The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters:
**Henry Wallace saved over 2 billion people. Wallace, U.S. Vice President under Franklin Roosevelt and then Secretary of Agriculture established a station in Mexico with the sole purpose to hybridize corn and wheat for arid climates. Wallace hired Norman Borlaug to run it.
Borlaug went on to be awarded the Nobel Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for being personally responsible for saving billions in the U.S. and around the globe with his hybridized high-yield disease resistant corn and wheat. But where would Borlaug be without Wallace?
Henry Wallace, who as a six-year-old boy would tag along on “botanical expeditions” with a then 19-year-old George Washington Carver. You know Carver – the peanut guy? Carver instilled in Wallace a love for plants and a vision for what they could do for humanity – long before he ever became Vice President.
Or should the credit for saving all those billions of people go to Moses, a farmer from Diamond Missouri – a man living in a slave state but who didn’t believe in slavery. This position landed Moses in a perilous situation one dark and terrifying evening when he met four hooded bandits on desolate road and traded his farm’s only horse for the contents of an old dirty burlap bag. As the bandits thundered off, Moses fell to his knees and pulled from the bag a cold, naked almost dead baby boy. Clutching the baby to his own skin, Moses walked through the night and into the next morning to bring the kidnapped baby to his mother’s best friend – Moses’ wife. They knew that the boy’s mother had been killed by the bandits, so they vowed to raise him as their own. And that his how Moses and Susan Carver came to raise that little baby, George Washington.
So, who in fact is responsible for saving those 2 billion people?
Or another example: Billy Graham has touched the lives of millions of people all over the world through his evangelical crusades. But who was the individual who took the time to share the Gospel of Christ with young Billy? Doesn’t he share in Billy’s eternal impact on the world?
Bringing it home, ask yourself, “What kind of effect does my life have on the world?”
Obviously, it’s nearly impossible to know how each interaction we make each day will affect the world’s future, but we can establish habits that positively touch people’s lives on an everyday basis.
But it takes practice.
Like an athlete practicing the little things so that they can master the more difficult things, we need to practice kindness, gentleness and love so that we can develop eyes that recognize opportunities to positively touch peoples lives.
Then the practice becomes reaction.
Now, impacting the lives of children is one thing, but adults? Could “killing somebody with kindness” have any impact on somebody who is already set in their ways?
Believe it or not, yes. If you are a consistently loving, patient, kind, generous friend, co-worker, neighbor or family member.
You can be the pebble to their ripple of water.
And the best place to practice is the practice-field. For baseball, it’s the ballpark. For basketball, it’s the gym. For love, , joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control, the practice-field is church. Within a healthy congregation lie an unending list of opportunities to become a tiny pebble and impact people’s lives for generations to come.
** Andrews, Andy. “Words of LIFE | LIFE Outreach International.” Web log post. Words of LIFE | LIFE Outreach International. N.p., 31 Oct. 2010. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.
Adapted from The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters by Andy Andrews, © 2009 Simple Truths LLC