The 'butterfly effect'

"Being small and insignificant has never been an obstacle for doing something for God" says Gary Gibbs

Have you ever heard of the ‘chaos theory’? It’s actually quite complex to understand, so I looked in Simple English Wikipedia, and this is what it said: 'The main idea of chaos theory is that a minor difference at the start of a process can make a major change in it as time progresses.'

It’s sometimes known as ‘the butterfly effect’. Allegedly, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can ultimately have a massive effect on weather patterns on the other side of the planet. Who knew?

On that first Christmas morning, in an unhygienic room, in the back of beyond of the Roman world, something occurred which, in the great scheme of things, seemed a very minor event. A baby boy was born. At that moment, only the great company of Heaven had any idea of the consequences for the rest of human history.

We make a mistake if we despise the day of small things (Zechariah 4:10). There are Kingdom parables which speak of a mustard seed which eventually becomes a large tree, or of a tiny amount of yeast which affects the whole batch of dough (Matthew 13:31-33).

Still today, God seems to specialise in taking the small, weak, and apparently insignificant things, people and situations, and doing something remarkable with them.

Here are two examples ...

Right now as you read this, we are just beginning a brand-new church in the city of Wolverhampton. The vision is to create a citywide, prevailing church. At the moment, we have a pastor working one day a week, his wife, and my wife Sally and me. Oh, and Joel, a third-year student from Regents Theological College; and we are still immersed in the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the face of it, it makes no sense. Until you remember that the Elim Movement began in 1915 during the Great War and yet flourished through that time; and afterwards through the years of the Depression. It makes no sense until you remember that a tiny baby born in the middle of nowhere in what looked like dodgy circumstances, became the fulcrum on which the whole of human history would turn and change.

Example number two ...

Would be you and me as individual believers. Let’s be honest, very few people have found this past nine months anything other than difficult, and sometimes dark. My encouragement to you comes from the words we hear each Christmas: 'In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.' (John 1:4-5).  

The living Lord Jesus is still our light and life. He comes to illuminate our darkness and empower us to keep following him. More than that, he encourages us to let his life and light emanate from us, touching the lives of those around us.

No doubt, like me, there are times when you feel really flat with the current state of things. I’m learning to sit down, breathe slowly and deeply, and remind my soul that, in the words of the Rend Collective song:

“What’s true in the light
Is still true in the dark
      You’re good and you’re kind
      And you care for this heart.”

Jesus is still Emmanuel, God with us. And even in the midst of our own emotional challenges he can use us to bring hope, light and life.

It could be that what currently seems to you to be a small and insignificant witness to others, may be the wings of a butterfly flapping, or like a baby being born who would transform billions of lives.


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