The cars were tightly packed as they entered turn 4. The #24 Chevy was in between the 48 and the 17. Three cars doing 190 miles per hour, each weighing approximately 3400 pounds were packed three wide, with just inches separating them. At the apex of the turn, the right rear tire of the middle car began to smoke. 75 laps of high speeds, cornering and a couple of rubs against other cars finally took its toll. The tire blew, and blew dramatically. Suddenly, the 24 car took a hard turn into the car on its left, then careened into the car on its right. The entire pack of thirty other race cars, all traveling close to the same speed saw a cloud of smoke and a pileup. How would they react? Some reacted well and missed the carnage, others not as well and joined in the wreckage. When it was all said and done, 8 cars were totally destroyed and four or five others needed new tires or some type of repair. Welcome to NASCAR racing.
NASCAR drivers depend not only on their pit crews and vehicle, they also depend on the drivers around them. More than once I have watched drivers totally lose it when somebody did something stupid and caused them to wreck. To quite “Days of Thunder,” “Rubbin’ is racin’,” but sometimes the rubbin’ is a little too rough and bad things happen. One mistake by a single driver can have consequences for multiple drivers. There is a ripple effect, and it can cause damage to people all around them. One lapse of judgment, one selfish move can have drastic effects on multiple lives.
It is the same way for our lives. We may think that our selfishness or our actions only affect us, but it’s not true. Everything we do causes ripples in the pond that is our lives. We must take that into account before we act.
And I’m not only talking about spiritual things here. I’m talking about day to day lives. A man sows his wild oats and gets a young girl pregnant, then doesn’t become a dad, he’s just a biological donor. The boy is born and grows up without a positive male influence, eventually winding up as one of our clients at the Sheriff’s Office. Think I’m being overly dramatic? Between thirty years of ministry and eleven years at the Sheriff’s Office, I have seen it over and over and over. Ripple effects…
A woman has a few drinks too many celebrating her birthday and drives home. She tells herself she’s not drunk, just a little tipsy. Four blocks from home she blows a stop sign and hits a car carrying a family. Two kids and a father die needlessly. Ripple effects…
I said it’s not just a spiritual issue, but the solution is. The only way to change is to alter the course you are on. If you could do it on your own you already would have. You need God’s help. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach.” Living by our own devices and selfishly definitely shows a lack of wisdom. We need God to help us. And he does!
God helps us by changing us from the inside out. God begins by changing the way we think about our sins, the way we think about ourselves and the people around us. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” We change, and we change for the better.
The flip side of ripples is that they can be used for good, too. I have seen entire families changed because a father gets his life right with Christ. It’s incredible to watch!
So what kind of ripples are you making? You’re making some, their quality and eternal consequences depend on you.
Trying to make good ripples… Jerry