Today: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Unpredictable!    (6/5/2016 1)

Can a butterfly flapping its wings in China really cause a storm in New York?  Probably not - there seems to be no evidence of any direct link within this popular notion.  What ‘the butterfly effect’ does suggest though is that small actions in one place can have significant effects elsewhere.

At a personal level, looking back, I can see that what seemed like small decisions I took as a teenager have had massive consequences for the rest of my life and have had an effect on a lot of other people as well.

Closely related to this principle is the ‘law of unintended consequences’, where an action taken to deal with one issue may resolve one problem, but unexpectedly has some other consequence which was never intended or foreseen and which may actually make the situation worse.

A local government in the USA banned drinks companies from marketing single cans of beer in order to reduce casual drinking. The companies responded by producing a ‘two-pack’, potentially doubling the problem!

We mentioned last week the challenge facing voters in Britain at the moment as they have to decide very shortly whether the United Kingdom should remain within the European Union.  To help them decide, people are crying out for facts.  “Tell us what will happen if we leave or if we stay!”  The trouble is, no one really knows what will happen.  All the best predictions can be read in various ways and every so-called fact is challenged by opponents who disagree.

Not only does no one really know what might happen, either way, but there are likely to be all kinds of unintended consequences, which of course no one can predict.

Life sometimes seems too complex and unpredictable for comfort.  I might be tempted to do nothing for fear of making things worse!

When Jesus came visiting their workplace, his first followers could have had no idea of the consequences of taking up his challenge to come with him.  In fact, their lives were changed totally, and though they probably never fully realised it, they were caught up in laying the very foundations of Christianity.

We may not be able to predict the effects of any of our decisions or actions - life is far too complex for that - but we might take encouragement from those disciples.  Decisions about government and economics and trade are immensely important, but even more important is the question of who it is we are travelling with. 

In travelling with Jesus, the disciples were able to share and live the love of God even under an alien government, as many are called to do today.  Travelling with Jesus is the very best companionship for facing all of life’s complexities.

Prayer:  Lord, when so much in life is unpredictable and beyond my control, give me wisdom and courage to make the right decisions, but most of all to follow in the steps of Jesus, so that travelling day by day with him, I may see your good consequences working out.

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