I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. Mother Teresa
Ripple effects. One stone can create unfathomable ripples that seemingly have no end. Fundamentally, there are only two kinds of stones: good and bad. Both create powerful ripples.
Bad stones equate to negative thoughts, words, or deeds. The ripple effect of one negative or untrue thought can spiral into an unending abyss of anxiousness. We’ve all experienced the reality of negative ripples. One bad stone can unleash powerful destruction.
Conversely, one positive thought, word, or deed will gently, slowly, rhythmically, and powerfully expand to create beauty that enhances the lives of many. I marvel when I see others use their gifts and talents to create beautiful ripple effects. God works miracles using good stones cast for His glory.
This is a short true story about one person using her stone—her gifts—to create beautiful ripples...
Thanksgiving weekend is a favorite of mine, a long weekend to enjoy good food and family fun. Traditionally, the Friday after Thanksgiving is the day I set up our Christmas decorations. If any of our kids happen to be home, they help.
This year, my hubby and I celebrated the holiday rather quietly. Our three girls and their families had other plans, and so, our only son was home for Thanksgiving. Rarely do we have one-on-one time with our adult children, and we enjoyed the sweetness of this opportunity.
Ben is a pastor, and he was scheduled to preach on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. He warned us ahead of time that while home for the holiday, he would be doing sermon prep. One hidden message seemed to be: “Mom, I won’t be helping with the Christmas decorations.”
Ben’s church had planned a topical series on the names of God to celebrate Advent for the month of December. His preaching assignment included Psalm 97, and specifically, to preach a sermon on God’s name of El Elyon, Hebrew for God Most High. Over tea for me and coffee for him, we discussed his sermon preparation. I learned more about the topic and also learned how he finds topical sermons more challenging to preach than an exegetical sermon, which basically involves an inductive look at Scripture. He had been wrestling with the material assigned to him.
I nearly came out of my skin with excitement and exclaimed, “Ben! You won’t believe this! I have been absolutely obsessed with God being our God Most High these past few weeks.” Surprised by my excitement, Ben perked up, “Tell me more, Mom.”
I grabbed my Simply Bible Advent study to share with him. Having begun preparation in order to film our daily videos, God Most High had pierced my heart. Slayed it really. For days on end, as I studied God’s Word in order to know and enjoy Him, I kept seeing one thing: He is God Most High. Who or what is higher than God? I was transfixed by His position. Everywhere I turned, God was revealing His authority, His power and His sovereignty.
In His Most High way, God also used a conversation with a friend to implant His position into my heart. On a hike together, we were discussing motherhood. As a parent of teen boys, she ruminated over her new position. No longer did her boys need her to control every aspect of their lives as they had once needed. Her position was shifting. She needed to let go of control and allow them more independence with the ability to make their own choices. In essence, she needed to step off to the side into a new position. I agreed.
My own position has changed as well. As a mom of adult children, it is no longer my place to tell my kids what to do. My new position requires waiting, remaining quiet, and simply praying, unless my wisdom is sought. This positional change is hard on moms. The older we get, the more wisdom and perspective we gain. We have much to say. Yet in humility, we must remember our position.
How do we do this? How do we keep our position in perspective? We remember God’s position: El Elyon, God Most High. In our lives and the lives of our children,
He [Jesus] must increase and we must decrease. John 3:30
As moms, we rest knowing that God Most High has established His throne in the heavens and His Kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:19). He upholds our children. In humility, we cast them into His strong and faithful hands.
Every character involved in the birth of Christ reacts to Jesus depending on their understanding of God’s position:
Mary submits to be His handmaiden. She believes and sings His praise understanding that God Most High has taken notice of her humble state and need for a savior.
Zechariah praises God and blesses his son, John, as the prophet who would prepare the way of the Most High, Jesus.
Joseph obeys and humbly submits to God Most High in order to protect Mary and Jesus.
A multitude of angels sing and glorify God Most High.
The shepherds believe their message about God Most High.
The wisemen follow the star of the God Most High longing to worship Him.
All the characters, except Herod, understand their own humble positions in relation to God Most High. His position reigns above all.
Through the Simply Bible Advent study, God challenged me to view His Most High position and my own low position. I obsessed to comprehend God’s high position in ways that I struggled to form into words. Ben listened intently. In response, he spoke so eloquently. He put into words things God had been revealing to my heart, but I struggled to speak.
Then he hopped up to say, "Mom, I think I have a sermon!" He got busy on his computer. I got busy with the Christmas decorations.
What does all this have to do with ripple effects?
Friends, behind the scenes at Simply Bible sits Melissa Trew. I give her a manuscript. She takes it and uses her design skills to transform the manuscript into a book. When she casts her stone into the water, the ripple effect is marvelous.
God is transforming my own heart through the Advent study. Without Melissa’s help to make Simply Bible Advent into the book that it is, I would not have dug into the Scriptures of Christ’s birth like I did. The conversation with my own son would not have happened. He would not have preached the sermon he preached. And similar to It’s a Wonderful Life, a number of other ripples would never come to be.
Think about it. Isn't it amazing how the lessons that God taught me through this Simply Bible Advent book—designed in a quiet, behind-the-scenes way by Melissa—would be infused into a sermon in Kansas City? My mind simultaneously delights and is overwhelmed by God’s Most High ways.
Simply Bible Advent transformed my heart. This, in turn, transformed Ben’s sermon. He surprised his mom with a shout out that Sunday, even sharing with his congregation a photo of us together on the beach. On his way home from church that morning, he called me, “Mom, it’s always a good idea to show a picture of yourself with your mom. Every mom in the congregation loved it!” He also noted that every mom related to what I had shared concerning position.
Oh! The ripples. (If curious, you can listen to his message on God Most High and God Most Big here.)
Melissa, thank you! Truly. I hope this story encourages your own heart, too. God is touching many hearts by all the good work you do behind the scenes.
Friends, as a side note, Melissa currently serves as the first virtual admin of Simply Bible. Although she plans to continue designing our books, she is stepping away from her administrative role. We hope to welcome a new admin for 2022 and value your prayers as these changes take place before our Simply Bible study of Mark begins in January.
Blessings to you and your family as we all prepare to celebrate the miracle of Christmas, when a God Most High stepped aside from His Most High position to become the God most low. Oh, the ripples!