The Butterfly Effect is easily one of the most fascinating ideas I’ve tried to wrap my head around. All fields of study have their takes on it, and terms like Chaos Theory or Emergence are commonly used, as well. To put a complex concept simply (pun intended), large entities or patterns arise from a series of simple interactions of smaller entities. Basically, small things lead to big things.
There are infinite (seemingly) insignificant decisions that have been made that resulted in you even just reading this post.
Our pastor recently gave a great illustration about all of the people who came before Billy Graham that influenced him encountering God. Traced all the way back to the 1800’s, the series of men included Edward Kimball, Dwight L. Moody, J. Wilbur Chapman, Billy Sunday, and Mordecai Ham. Remove one of these from the equation, even the simple interactions quoted in some of their stories, and Billy Graham’s story would undoubtedly look different.
The faithful passing along of truth from one of these men to the next resulted in over 215 million people in live audiences in over 185 countries hearing the Gospel through Billy Graham. That doesn’t include television, radio, and other forms of communication. To take it one step further, imagine the ministries and demonstrations of love birthed from the individuals Billy Graham influenced...and the stories emerge on and on and on.
It’s easy to lose sight of a grand narrative in our day to day, but small moments can change everything. Our faithfulness in the small things, our willingness to take just the next right step, echoes into eternity. Jesus talked about the Law of the Harvest. We reap what we sow, and we are always sowing.
The classic example for the Butterfly Effect is that the flap of a butterfly’s wings on one side of the world can create a hurricane on the opposite side. I think this extreme example is illustrative of a point that’s true for our lives: what we do matters. Right this moment, the next ten minutes, what you do tomorrow--it matters. And we can live by default, or we can live with an intentionality that unknown millions will one day benefit from.