At the fishing lodge where I work, we are constantly around water and the ocean. And yet, though I’ve done this work since I was 9 years old and been guiding people on the ocean since 13, there are still things about the water and the natural world of the Inside Passage that continue to amaze and instruct me. Just a few days ago I trailered a boat to the town of Sointula where the boat launch is. I backed the boat and its captain down the ramp, and we backed the boat into the water and dumped him. He pulled the boat out of the harbor and to ensure everything would go smoothly on this inaugural voyage of this particular boat for the summer, I walked to the edge of the harbor and watched his boat cruise across Rough Bay towards Graveyard Point where he would turn and head towards Meynell Point where our dock is. The boat zipped by without incident (which is always a good thing) and as his passing engine’s noise slowly dissipated, the sound of stillness invaded into the early evening quiet. The sound of silence was amazing…there wasn’t another sound for a good 10 seconds. Then a bird chirp. 5 more seconds. A boat horn way off on the water. Then a few seconds later a car passed by. Then more silence.
And then I heard the waves from his boat slowly wash over the shoreline of Malcolm Island, over 30 seconds after his boat had passed beyond view. Splash, splash, splash…waves slowly breaking on the rocky gravel of the shore.
It had me thinking of the ripple effect which wiki describes as “The ripple effect is a term used to describe a situation where, like the ever expanding ripples across water when an object is dropped into it, an effect from an initial state can be followed outwards incrementally.” In this case the passing boat had created a wake and though the boat had moved on, the waves continued on until they had an impact when they reached the shore.
This reminds me, in some ways, of the church I’m so very far away from as I write this morning. In the 10 months our church has been in existence, I’ve been a little bit like the shooting boat zipping in fast forward with purpose and energy and the call of God. But my impact, now that I’m away, is very limited. It is actually the movement of the people of the church that will impact the world and continue to be a force to impact things. Even as I am gone, the work continues and the volunteers keep on with the continuing and steady force of a boat wake heading for a shore…even if the shore is a long way off.
Making a difference in the world to be a light for Christ can be a daunting task, but on this evening I was reminded that it is perhaps simpler than we sometimes make it. Christ changes us, in very small ways, like a pebble dropped into a puddle or a boat cruising through an otherwise calm bay. And then the force from this encounter creates a small, steady, but continual force (like boat waves) that will carry on and on and on. The waves continue on with a force that is not their own, they need only be faithful to the encounter and continue on until they reach the point when they reach the shore. As Christ makes an impact on our lives we are changed by this encounter and set forth on a journey “charged to make a difference.”
I’m inspired and strengthened by the people who are making a difference at our church from their Christ encounter. People volunteering at Jacob’s Well, a shelter for homeless moms and kids. People volunteering at Arden Senior Center to do a bible study with senior citizens. People volunteering with Syre Elementary school to work with students. Families off to Africa this week to serve in Zambia. People getting ready for a mission trip to Haiti. All of this is happening right now in our little community. People transformed by Christ, charged to make a difference, wave by wave by wave. It is simple, and yet it is beautiful. And this is how the world is changed, one wave at a time, to make Jesus known.