Pebble in a Pond
“PEBBLE IN A POND”
Written by: Daniel Starr
The period of Israel’s history we typically designate “The United Kingdom” covers the years of the 1st 3 physical kings of Israel- Saul, David, and Solomon. This is a fascinating study each time I go through it. The similarities seen in the lives and character of these 3 men are particularly interesting. I suspect the differences are fairly obvious to anyone who looks at them.
- Saul- a few admirable qualities to begin with, but immediately in over his head, immature, self absorbed, spiritually shallow, and eventually an utter failure as a leader of God’s people.
- David- a pillar of faith, the personification of the pursuit of fellowship with God, a King of God’s choosing, a man after God’s own heart. Not infallible, certainly, and guilty of making some terribly sinful mistakes, but overall- steady, reliable, and typically a powerful good example for those he lead.
- Solomon- Kind of a mixed bag, this one. Much of his reign was marked rather dramatically by unparalleled success and admirable leadership. He was wise, wealthy, and at least during the early years, solidly faithful. He fell, however, in his later years, and sent the great kingdom he had built spiraling into division, civil war, foreign occupation, and eventually- near total destruction.
To simplify this quick assessment even further- Saul: Failure; David: Success; Solomon: 50/50. This is, at least, how my simple mind sees the three when I glance at them (with my minds eye) only briefly. The complete truth is obviously far more detailed and complicated, but hopefully you get my drift.
Very different men in so many ways, but consider this similarity with me:
The impact of their choices, not just for them, but for generations of those who came after them. Saul, David, Solomon- they each made choices that had either catastrophic or constructive impact on the lives of those they never even knew.
They were each a pebble dropped in a pond which quickly breaks the surface of the water and sinks out of sight. The ripples on the surface of the water linger and spread for generations. Long after they were dead and buried, the impact of their choices was being either enjoyed or suffered by those who came after them. These were BIG pebbles, no doubt, with big ripples, but all pebbles will do exactly the same thing when dropped in the water.
You may or may not identify with any of these 3 men, but we all share this with them. Our choices may not affect the direction of our nation, but we can be assured that choices that we make have consequences for those we may never know.
We tend not to think often (or ever) of those who will be touched by who we are today long after we are gone, but they deserve our consideration. So removed are we from this way of thinking that we often struggle to consider or care even for the effect of our lives on those who immediately surround us today.
God created us with the capacity to look ahead, and look around.- not just out of concern for ourselves, but for those who will be impacted, hurt, helped, or changed in some way by who we are today. It is not easy, or even “natural” for us to think like this, but this ability to ponder the potential consequences of our choices for others is both possible and commanded by our Creator.
I have often looked back at something I have said or done in remorse- not so much for the effect of a sinful choice on me, but for the pain it caused another. I didn’t anticipate that consequence for that person, but they were wounded nonetheless. I suspect we have all been in this position at some point, and it can occur in varying degrees of intensity and countless different contexts in our lives.
There have been many parents who have reflected back on the blink of an eye that represents the few short years we have to teach and train our children and regretted the other, competing, relatively valueless priorities adopted during those years. Those other “important” things may have felt like worthwhile sacrifices until the impact on the lives and character of our children began to come into focus. Could we have seen these things on the horizon had we stood still for a minute and looked with the eyes that God asks us to have?
Prisons are full of remorse over unforeseen and unintended consequences.
History is crowded with those who have looked back on the lives they have lived and wondered where it all went wrong, why it didn’t work, how they are now so alone, despite having accomplished materially impressive things.
Some write about it, or speak about it, to anyone who will listen, and hope that they might steer us away from where they have lead themselves- but the true, or most appropriate source of their remorse is rarely that- it is the consequences of the life they lived on those they loved, and those other ripples that they hadn’t even imagined when they made the choices that created them.
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Eph 5:15-17