A man stands on one side of a large pond, skipping rocks on its surface. He does this for a few moments, counting how many times they skip, trying to beat his personal best. At last he’s out of smooth stones, the kind suitable for skipping, and turns to leave. Before he does, though, he sees a large, craggy rock at his feet. Just for fun, he heaves the rock as far into the pond as he can, enjoying the big splash it makes when it hits. Then he goes, having had his moment of play, forgetting all that he’s done there.
On the other side of the same pond, at the same time, a boy is sailing his toy boat on the glassy surface of the pond. There’s a hint of a breeze. The boat’s sails fill with the wind, propelling it out into the deep water, where the boy can’t retrieve it. As the boy watches hopelessly, his beautiful boat sails away from him, lost forever.
But suddenly there are ripples on the surface of the water. Something has disturbed the smooth pond, and large ripples – waves, almost – are coming toward the boat. The boat is caught up in the motion of the ripples and is turned away from the wind, toward the shore and the overjoyed little boy. He reaches down and retrieves his sailboat from the water and runs home, his fear gone, remembering only the great pleasure of sailing his boat on that fine pond today.
Many times in our lives we’ve performed an act of random kindness, or even spoken a kind word, and thought that was as far as it went. We’ve also acted foolishly, or spoken carelessly at times. But we need to be aware of the likelihood that our acts or words… the rock we threw into the pond… had an unseen effect.
Can it be that God places us in situations where we act, then go away, and our actions affect somebody else profoundly? Of course. Can the things we do on our side of the pond make a difference for someone else on the other side, even though we didn’t even know the person was there? Without a doubt. If we’re “fitly joined together,” as the Word says we are, then it must be that many of the things we do (seemingly at random) are coordinated to fulfill a purpose of God, maybe far away, maybe far into the future, maybe to serve people we’ll never meet, and maybe we’ll never witness the effect of our actions.
If this is true then, does this call us to make every effort to act in love and speak in love, as a rule in our lives? If our actions and words are having effects far beyond our ability to see them, then shouldn’t we speak and act with the intent to set good things in motion? Hopefully none of us intends that our random acts should do harm, of course, but the intent to do God’s will with every act and word might just make a difference in this world… perhaps a much larger difference than we can ever imagine.