If you have ever dropped a pebble into a pool of water and watched the reaction of that pool, you saw ripples spreading ever outward until they covered the entire surface of the pond. If you have seen pictures of this action in slow motion, you probably see at the center of the ripples a column of water appearing to be standing straight up. This is a spontaneous reaction of the water to whatever was dropped into the pond. This shows us that the reaction is strongest at the point of impact. Nevertheless, the effect spreads throughout the pond and it continues and becomes invisible to the eye, but the effect is there nonetheless.
Lives are like that. Lives send ripple effects. There is no such thing as a little action. No matter who you are or what you do, in some way you start a ripple effect like the pebble. It could be a positive effect or even a negative one. In our world today, there is a false ideology that only celebrities, politicians or "big name" people can make a difference or impact upon this generation. However, history is full of examples of little-known people who did seemingly simple things that had a profound effect on people around them.
Influence or ripple effect can also, as we all know, be a negative. Reading through Kristin's Bible, I found a passage concerning King Uzziah. He had been a king until he became lifted up in pride, then he acted pridefully, was struck with leprosy and banished to live the remainder of his days as a leper. His son became king in his stead. Pride is a leprosy in itself. It is easily observed in others, but difficult to see in oneself.
The Bible vehemently states that one thing God hates is a proud look. Some earmarks from pride and a "proud look" are love of money and associations with evil men in order to elevate oneself either materially or in the eyes of people. The result is a ripple upon those around us, along with a stench of "something just isn't right" about it. In the end is death of influence.
The Scripture says that "pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall." Look at Hitler and the ripple effect of his life. We shudder to think of it. Ripple effects of this sort could be pictured as an algae-covered, bacteria breeding type of pond causing disease and death to those dropping the pebble and those effected by it. Oh, there is a ripple effect, but it is destructive not constructive. Beware, keenly aware, of the ripple effect of pride.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have a young girl who received a diary as a present for her 13th birthday, the diary from which so many of us remember Anne Frank today.
In 1942, the family went into hiding in a desperate attempt to avoid being rounded up by the Nazis. For the next two years, Anne wrote down everything that happened to her in her diary. As one writer put it, "She became the most memorable figure to emerge from World War II - besides Hitler."
Anne Frank's pond can be seen as a cool pool fed by a babbling brook with a freshness and aroma of a clean and clear river. Her pebble dropped into it and still ripples today. Anne wrote in her diary: "I want to be useful or give pleasure to people around me who yet don't really know me. I want to go on living even after my death!"
During the two years that Anne, her sister, and her mother and father hid from the Nazis, she poured her heart into her words. One heart-felt passage records her search for meaning at a time when evil seemed to be winning:
"I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness; I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too; I can feel the sufferings of millions; and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty will end, and that peace and tranquillity will return again ... I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out."
You know, we probably would have never heard of Anne Frank if she had lived to be 80 years old. But she died a horrible death from typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945. Two years later, her father, Otto, who miraculously survived, published "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl," and people from every walk of life have been reading about her ever since.
It is the same with my girl, Kristin. She did not die as a martyr as her diaries states she would have. Yet her death, as any young death, does something: it makes those who knew her or hear about her, sit up and take notice of a beautiful young woman whose only desire on earth was to love the unlovable, the outcast and the downtrodden. Though she had goals in life, her ultimate goal was to bring glory to God. In the margin of her Bible in Isaiah 58 she writes: "For my eulogy, I want this to be true in my life: Dated 10-5-10- verse 10-11 reads: 'And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday (not so dark, was her note here) And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places and give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden (flourish, her word here) And like a spring of water waters do not fail.'"
Verse 13 is underlined as well: "dissenting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word, Then you will take delight in the Lord, And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth: And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, For the mouth of Lord has spoken."
Kristin's ripple effect is that her death will be the answer to her life's burden.
Lastly, none have had quite the ripple in our generation as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. This woman died in 1997, and grew up very comfortably in an extremely wealthy family. She was to inherit a fortune, but decided to turn her back on the fortune offered her to serve God and the outcasts of India. Fresh out of the convent she was sent, in 1931, to India and began teaching for 15 years in a girls' school. The ripples of her work were spreading out among the hundreds and hundreds of girls she taught, but in 1946, Agnes Gonxha Bajaxhiu heard God calling her to live and work among the poor. She never planned on becoming anyone important or famous. All she felt called to do was take care of the terminally ill and dying. Yet, she spent her life embracing these outcasts from society and surrounded them with dignity and love in their final days. The rest is history: the Nobel peace prize, the India's Padmashri Award for services were nothing compared to the work she loved serving the untouchables of the society. You probably have guessed by now, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu became known as Mother Teresa.
What kind of ripple effect are you creating today? Did you start out with your pebble dropping into the cool fresh stream of selfless service only to be caught up in worldly pleasures of money, fame and pride? Turn again my friend, and look and live. Go back to service that brought you so much joy and when those things didn't matter and the only things that matter were God and people. Maybe you never had a pure desire to do so, but now you desire the ripple effect of a life well lived for others. You will not be able to drop that pebble on your own. Only God can do that. It begins on bended knee and with an open ear. I want to start a ripple effect today, won't you join me?
(Kimberly Morgan, MA, is a wife and homeschool mom in Elkins. She is counselor/chaplain at Cornerstone Christian Counseling and Kristin's Hope.)