I'm sure we've all done it. The surface of the lake or pond is absolutely still. No breeze. No fish biting in the early morning sun. And we pick up a pebble or small rock, and we toss it into the water, just to see the waves that emanate from that spot, creating perfect circles that eventually will reach the opposite and distant shore.
Over the last several months I have felt almost helpless. No, not a fearful sense that my life is spinning out of control, or anything of that nature. If you've followed my blog you've known of my conviction that we as Followers of Christ are to be Christ - really God - in this world. And that's where my sense of hopelessness is based: I don't feel like I'm doing enough, or even ANYTHING, to "better" this world. I have grown more cynical, more anguished, at what I see as a growing lack of compassion amongst us. And sadly, much of this has been from those who call themselves Christian, and who work hard to make sure that a gay couple cannot marry, or a woman cannot have an abortion, yet they ignore those who are helpless or homeless. This has only exacerbated my anguish and feeling of helplessness.
The only consolation that I seem to find is that while I cannot change the world, I CAN change my little part of the world.
And that was spoken to me in the clear loud gentle voice from the pulpit this morning.
The Gospel lesson for today was the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21). We know this story. There were 5000 men and probably thousands of women and children as well. They scraped up 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. Somehow, miraculously, Jesus feeds them all, and after the feast, they gather 12 baskets of leftovers! As our pastor spoke, he pointed out something I'd never thought of: through this act, Jesus didn't solve hunger. He just fed a few thousand people.
And it hit home to me, almost to the point that I started to cry. As Followers of Christ, we cannot change the world (yes, some do, but it's very few). We are meant to change OUR world. Our sphere of influence.
We are to be the ripple in the pond.
The Ripple Effect is such a true analogy of what it means to be living a life of service to God. For if we can change or positively impact the life of one person, that one person can go on and touch the life of someone else, and soon, from our simple act of compassion, the circles of compassion and kindness will go out from us and touch lives. I don't have to try to run the entire campaign for feeding the hungry or getting a national homeless network established. But I can do something here, at home. Maybe it's teaching the kids to be kind and have compassion. Maybe it's just saying hello to someone at the supermarket. Maybe it's just helping my elderly neighbor get her paper in the morning. This is how the Ripple Effect of God works. It's not in the grand statements like a huge waterfall. But in the small ripples that go from one place and soon, reach out across the pond.
"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."