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Summary: The ripples of our life choices impact things far beyond the choice itself, for good or for ill

Roots, Ripples and Reference Points

Lessons from the Lake, Part 2

TCF Sermon

July 23, 2006

One of the things Laura and I like to do, when we’re at her grandparents’ lake house on Beaver Lake in NW Arkansas, is skip stones on the lake.

There are a lot of stones on the shoreline – in fact, it’s a rocky shore, and that’s pretty much all there is. So we look for flat rocks on the shore, better for skipping, and generally Laura finds them, and I skip them, because Laura doesn’t have the sidearm motion down that you need to skim stones across the top of the water.

What Laura does do often is heave bigger stones to make a splash. I do that, too. Especially when the water’s still. When it’s still, is the best kind of water for skipping, and the best for splashing, because the splash is more noticeable, and the ripples go on and on.

One time when we were there recently, I watched the ripples from a splash, and noticed how far they went. Even when it wasn’t even a particularly big splash, the ripples, though they got less pronounced, further from the splash point, went on for quite a while. They continued long after the splash was no longer visible at all.

I began to think about this idea of ripples, and how the individual choices we make in our lives, are like the splash, which only lasts for a moment. But the ripples, or the consequences, of that splash, or choice, sometimes last for days, weeks, months, even years, depending on the context of the splash, or choice.

So, this morning, those of you who were here two weeks ago will remember that I promised you part 2 of the Lessons from the Lake. Part 1 was about roots – we won’t review that this morning, you’ll have to wait until the movie comes out.

This morning is part 2 of Roots, Ripples and Reference Points, Lessons from the Lake. Really, you don’t have to have heard part 1 for this to make sense, as the only thing tying these messages together is the fact that I got the idea for these messages at my in-laws’ lake house. I’m hoping by showing the elders how inspired I am at the lake house, they’ll encourage me to go there more often.

Tom Buck told me after the last one that he thinks this is just my spiritual excuse for going to the lake. Anyway, as I thought about this idea, and began to study the idea of the consequences of the choices we make in life, I found that scripture is literally chock full of this idea of ripple effects. Especially in Proverbs, but even well beyond that book, there’s a clear connection between the things we do, the choices we make…..and what happens in our lives, for good or ill, because of, or in part as a result of, those choices.

When we make good choices, good consequences generally follow. When we make bad choices, bad consequences generally follow. I say generally, because it’s clear that bad things happen to good people, and good things sometimes happen to bad people, at least in this life.

It’s also clear that God’s in charge, and He can divert ripples, or create a bigger ripple that overcomes the ripple of our bad choices – we’ll examine that idea later as well.

So this is a principle, not a hard and fast rule. But it’s spoken of enough in scripture to pay attention to it, to make it worth examining here this morning, and we ignore it at our peril.

Now, the word ripple is never used in any version of scripture I could find. Neither is consequence, except in paraphrases. So we have to look for other words that express the same basic idea. But when we do that, and think of words like fruit, wages, effect, reward, we find, again, that this is a pervasive theme in scripture. We’re going to take a quick look at many of these passages this morning. Here’s a passage that clearly expresses this idea, but you have to be thinking in these terms to see it.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Let’s look at this through the lens of this idea of ripples:

Prov 3:6 – in all your ways (in every choice, in every splash you make), acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (your ripples positive).

Many Proverbs speak of the wisdom to make good choices and obey God, which is followed by blessings, rewards, and prosperity. Many Proverbs also speak of the folly of ignoring the wisdom of God, making poor choices and disobeying His commands, which is followed by disaster.

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