Pebbles on their own may not seem all that powerful. Others have likely heard me use the analogy "like a pebble in a pool" many times. It's one of my favorites because I believe for all of it's simplicity, it really packs a punch...as can a pebble.
Imagine standing near a body of water, a lake perhaps. The surface is glistening; glass like. On the shore, you pick up a small pebble and cast it into the lake. Following the initial impact, rings begin to form, one, and another, and another. While only the first ring actually comes into direct contact with the pebble itself, there's no question that were it not for the pebble, there would be no subsequent action.
My favorite use of this analogy is to describe the impact people can have on each other. I've seen the power of the pebble in my life so many times; both good and bad.
When I first started attending church as an adult, I arrived a broken, hopeless mess; my life was a train wreck. I finally released the tight grip I had on the controls to God and once I did, He began to heal and re-orient me to live in the right direction. My life has never been the same since and for this, I thank God, literally!
As I continued to yield, pursued Him, and began to grow into the real woman I was created to be, God used others to tell me things about myself that I could not yet see. Such as my ability to lead and my deep heart of compassion for others. These very things, these pebbles that were cast into my life, set into motion a new belief in myself, and the desire to aspire to all that God wanted for me, and from me. They continue to influence me today.
I attended that very first church for nine years; it was a refuge from the chaos that was my life. I met amazing people and experienced an environment that was much needed for God to heal me, gently peeling away the layers of ugliness left by the sins of life. It was a direct result of those first words of affirmation from others that I even began to feel worthy to serve as I ended up doing; both in women's and compassion ministry.
The time eventually came when I felt that the next level of my healing and growth would only come with a change; leading me to my current church. Making new friends and getting acquainted with those unknown has never been easy for me. Though once I know others I'm comfortable, initially I am shy. This trait had me choosing to remain relatively unknown for quite some time.
After a season, I heard God telling me "it's time now; out of anonymity, dear one. I want you to begin making connections; using the healing and talents I have given you to minister to others." This lead me to put a still somewhat reluctant toe in the water, signing up for a women's bible study.
This landed me precisely into the setting in which I am the most uncomfortable; stepping into a room full of people I do not know. So there I was, feeling totally out of place, like a spot light was overhead, lighting up my awkwardness. I looked for the closest empty table, and sat down.
A sweet young woman, named Angel no less, came to the table, shared she was the table leader, and assured me I was welcome. Pebble! To illustrate how instrumental the power of that one pebble was, here is how God has used it to set more actions into motion, in a very short amount of time:
Angel's warm welcome -> feeling of belonging -> feeling compelled to watch out for others looking for a place to sit -> connecting with others, making new friends -> being invited to lead a table of women for the following season's study -> feeling encouraged to connect with others -> signing up to help with the women's retreat -> leading a planning team for the women's retreat -> making even deeper connections -> feeling edified, loved and learning how to take it in -> God using that to encourage me on the path to re-entering ministry -> sharing this with the leader of women's ministry -> getting the green light to facilitate a new women's ministry at church, and so on and so on.
This isn't even the extend of it! There are many other rings that resulted from this one pebble which that dear Angel cast into my life; those very rings are still in motion, resonating out, and touching the lives of others to this very day.
These pebbles can be so many things, really. The supply is endless, they are simple, and they are free; a kind word, really listening, a hug, a phone call, compassion...
So each day, each moment, I know I have the ability to do what others have done for me. What an exciting, awesome, and humbling opportunity for God to use me! So I stand at the ready, pebble in hand, just waiting for Him to show me where to cast this next one in.