Ah, the creek life. In the business of day to day life, it’s easy to miss the little things. A small creek runs through the back of our property. Just a stone’s throw from our back door, there is a wooded oasis of boyhood. A creek, narrow enough to dare you to jump across, but wide enough to get your feet wet when you try. The perfect size for skipping rocks down stream. When I got home from work today, my son needed some “guy time”. Having 4 sisters can make one a bit stir crazy.
We made our way down the embankment to our favorite spot; an island of rocks in the middle of the creek. It has been raining, so the rocks were submerged, so we made our way to site B, a rocky shoal a hundred feet down stream or so. It was there that the inevitable stone throwing began. It always starts with skipping, and progresses to hoisting the biggest rocks he can muscle, in order to make the biggest splash. Today, he asked about the ripples caused from the stone and what they were called. He giggled and thought the word ripple was funny. He asked why they happen, and I tried to think of a good way to explain surface tension and hydrogen bonding to a 7 year old. I copped out.
“They’re consequences” I told him. I went on to explain that every time you do anything in life, even small things, there is a consequence, good or bad. He began to throw bigger and bigger rocks to see how big of a ripple he could create. He quickly discovered that the bigger the stone, the bigger the consequence. Before too long, he was scurrying about the small shoal to find the biggest stones. With another giggle he looked at me, eyes gleaming, “how long until we throw so many rocks that the water covers this one like our usual spot?!”
What my son stumbled across was profound. He noticed that some things make an instant change, while others have a lasting one. The ripples from a thrown rock will fade quickly, but with enough persistence the landscape of the shore could change forever. Either way, you are throwing stones.
The things we do and the words we say have consequences, good or bad. Speaking or acting without intention remove your power over their effect, but considering the consequences and choosing your actions can bring life.
Thinking about this, I was struck by an exchange between Jesus and Peter. It can be found in Matthew 16:20-28. Jesus had spent years with his closest 12 revealing the Father and Himself to them. As His earthly ministry was nearing an end, He began to be more and more blunt with them, until He was telling them plainly what was going to happen to Him in Jerusalem. Peter told Him that this would never happen. He was concerned about Jesus, he loved Him and couldn’t bear to think of losing Him. His words were sent out without thought, but were meant well. This is why Jesus’ words astonished me so much. “Get thee behind me Satan”.
What? Why did Jesus call one of his beloved friends “Satan”? He tells Peter that he is a stumbling block, as his concerns are of man and not of God. In other words, he had temporary interest and not eternal. His words, meant to comfort Jesus served only to encourage Him to abandon the plan for salvation, thus the harsh words from the Lord. God takes words seriously, because the power they carry is much more than the vibration they cause in the recipients ears, it’s the ripples they cause in their hearts.
What we do has eternal consequence, but our focus determines the value. Jesus goes on to say in this passage,
“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
Jesus was pointing out, that if our focus is on the temporary things we can see right away, but pay no attention the eternal things which are harder to notice, we gain nothing. This has been particularly challenging for me as of late. I have been working hard not only to earn a living, but I have been trying to make a positive change where I am at. It is very easy to become laser focused on policies, quality issues and compliance with regulations (all of which are important), but forget that on a daily basis we have the opportunity to make an eternal impact.
Another hour at work probably could have yielded some noticeable benefit, but an hour at the creek with my son taught me more, and was better spent investing in a relationship that is eternal. He may not remember that we renamed ripples “consequences” or that the best skipping rocks usually aren’t the biggest, but hopefully it was one eternal stone moved to change the landscape of his heart.