When I was on my morning walk, I rested for a few minutes by Willow Lake in my neighborhood of Horseshoe Bend. While I was enjoying the light breeze across the water, I saw this solitary leaf slowly drifting on the ripples and I thought of Nat King Cole singing:
For all we know
This may only be a dream
We come and we go
Like the ripples of a stream
I thought of the leaf on the ripples as a metaphor for my life. Ripples gently pushing me in different directions. Sometimes waves threatening to inundate me. We like to believe we control our own fate but again and again the ripples gently move us where God wants us to go and often where we never expected.
But we also create ripples and they can be very powerful when they add up.
A few years ago I was contacted on-line by a young woman that I had met when I was at UT Dallas. She asked me if I remembered her story. Her family had recently come from Egypt, where she had begun her engineering education, and she had applied for admission to our electrical engineering program. She was turned down. She and her mother appealed for a meeting with ‘The Dean’, so I made some time in my schedule to talk to them. Nancy had brought her transcript from her studies in Egypt. It was pretty mediocre. No wonder she was denied admission. But there was something about her. A spark. Her desire was very strong and from her history I knew she had endured hardship and was highly motivated to earn her way into our school.
So I started a ripple.
I took out a sheet of paper and wrote down a list of five courses I asked her to take at Richland College, one of our local excellent community colleges. I told her I didn’t expect her to get all A’s, but I wanted her to get at least a B average. If she did that, I told her to come back and I would admit her. I signed the paper, made a copy for our files, and gave it to Nancy. Soon after that I moved to the University of Dayton, so I never saw Nancy again.
The ripple turned into a wave. Nancy took all the courses, got all A’s, was admitted to UT Dallas, and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering. She then received her Master’s Degree in Telecommunications from SMU and finished up with an Executive MBA from UT Austin. She went on to be a highly successful executive in the high tech industry.
Then Nancy started her own ripples. Nancy would hold workshops for young women to talk about getting a ‘second chance’, just as I had given her. At one of the workshops a participant asked her if she had ever thanked me. So that started her search to find me and, courtesy of LinkedIn, we reconnected.
From ‘The ripple effect’ in Ruth: A 7-Day devotional, I read:
“In Decisions Big and Small, Our Faithfulness to God Causes a Ripple Effect That Not Only Influences the Present, But Generations to Come”.
From a little ripple huge waves can grow. An encouraging word, a thoughtful gesture, sharing the love of Jesus can grow into a mighty river. Isn’t it time that all of us together start making ripples?