A man stood on the grassy green bank of a large lake. The cool of the evening wrapped around him like a familiar jacket as he peacefully surveyed the setting sun on the far shore. He reveled in the still and silence. No cars honking, no people talking, no birds chirping, not even a sound from moving water.
All was quiet until the man shifted his right foot slightly to find a more comfortable position to stand and take it all in. Unintentionally, his shifting dislodged a small pebble that slowly rolled over the edge of the grassy embankment and fell into the water.
The falling pebble did not make a sound, and it barely caused a ripple as it landed in the shallow water of the lake’s edge. But that was all it took.
That one small ripple startled a dragonfly resting on a patch of young cattails. As the dragonfly zoomed away, the cattail upon which it had rested swayed back and forth, causing the other slender reeds to move ever so gently.
The rustling cattails disturbed a tiny brown frog on a nearby lily pad. Whether from fright or hunger or simply disgust, the frog leaped into the water with a decisive plop.
The frog’s plunge was a fortuitous opportunity for a pan-sized bass that had evidently been hidden and waiting in the reeds. Mr. Bass grabbed his dinner with gusto, creating a resounding splash with his tail as he happily took his meal back to the covering of the cattails.
That splash made a wave that moved its way across the lake. Immediately, a pair of crows in a nearby oak tree started cackling and cawing as if they were laughing at the poor frog’s demise.
And with that, the silence and stillness ended.
All around the lake, the chain reaction continued as birds began singing, frogs commenced croaking, and crickets started chirping.
The man sighed a bit and then let out a small chuckle. “Forgive me, Mr. Frog. I never meant to harm you. Who knew one small pebble could cause all that?”
It’s just a story, a metaphorical take on cause and effect.
But sadly, in our own lives and in the world around us, one small pebble in the pond often does cause a chain reaction. What we say and do even on the smallest, most insignificant scale can impact people for generations.
Take the biblical story of King David in 2 Samuel 11.
Now, keep in mind that David was described from the start as a man after God’s heart. And talk about faith, David is still our rock-solid example of a warrior for God. Even as a youth, David confronted the giant Goliath and defeated him in the name of the Lord.
But there came a day when King David grew tired and weary. So, he took a break from the appointed time for war. And why not? After all, he was the king. Why should he have to fight every single battle the Hebrews faced? He had mighty men of valor, like Joab, in his army who were quite capable. The king deserved a little vacation, right?
The only problem was that God had not ordained that rest. And the consequences of simply taking a much-needed and much-deserved break ended in adultery, murder, and the death of his child.
One small decision to sit out that fight put him on the rooftop precisely at a moment when the enemy could use that choice against David. It was not direct rebellion or open sin that opened the door to that series of events. It was complacency and weariness. But it was enough to start a chain reaction of sin that impacted David’s family for generations to come.
Yes, God forgave him. Yes, God still used him. And yes, God healed his heart, but that did not negate the death of his son or the murder of Bathsheba’s husband. And it did not negate the continuing effect of those sins upon David’s family and nation.
And it all started with one small decision. Not even an action, at first. Just a decision of inaction that led to one action after another. A tragic example of cause and effect that still ripples across time.
But there is good news!
When we listen to and obey the voice of God, our words and actions will positively impact our lives and the lives of those around us just as much (or more so) than those of sin and disobedience.
Take the story of Rahab the harlot in the book of Joshua. She decided to help the two Hebrew spies by hiding them under some stalks of flax on her rooftop. Then, she saved their lives by letting them down the walls of the city with a scarlet cord. With that same scarlet cord, the Hebrew army was signaled to pass over her and save her entire family when the city’s day of destruction came.
Guess what else? That same scarlet thread continued to run through the family of Rahab. If you doubt me, check out Matthew 1. According to scholars, this same Rahab/Rachab was King David’s great-great-grandmother. With one choice, Rahab moved her family from the house of a harlot to the palace of a king.
And that’s not all! If you trace King David’s lineage, it leads straight to Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. So that same scarlet thread that Rahab used to save the Israelites still serves as a crimson symbol of salvation – because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Think long and hard about that for a moment.
Rahab the harlot made a choice that impacted her family forever. Her choice is also still impacting us today. And through Jesus, her choice will continue to impact mankind even unto the day of eternity.
So, no matter who you are, where you’ve been, or how deep you find yourself in sin, Rahab the harlot is proof that it only takes one decision to forever change your future, the future of your family, and even the future of the world.
But also like Rahab, you have to make a choice today, a choice that will ripple across generations and change everything for better or worse. A choice that will impact eternity.