Have you ever dropped a stone in the calm waters of a pond? Plop. What a satisfying sound. Even better is picking up a handful of pebbles and slinging them out all at once. Plop, plop, plop! The ripples of each individual stone intersecting with its neighbor and then its neighbor’s neighbor, until eventually all those ripples become one sloshing wave toward renewed calm.
Our stories do something similar. One by one plopping out into the now of today and intersecting and interacting with all those around us. Like a giant Venn diagram of humanity.
So this week in between back to school errands and while doing laundry, I’ve been processing how the tiniest of shared story ripple space makes the difference between oblivion and connection.
Sort of like how the giant ker-plunk story wave of a humble American doctor serving under the radar in Liberia has suddenly crashed into so many people’s stories.
People I know, good friends and family. Because of the alumni connection to Abilene Christian University, I am watching this digital storied stew of connections. Friend, family, work and church connections. I’m paying close attention as I realize that a piece of my heart lives one tiny country away from where a virus mercilessly grows in power. I’m watching to see how my plans to visit those precious kids in Ghana in November may be affected.
I don’t know Dr. Kent Brantly or his wife Amber. But I feel like I do now because of their story that is being broadcasted into the world daily. Reading articles and news reports on the unfolding events of his struggle with a virus named Ebola.
Ripples upon ripples upon ripples in ever-widening circles.
My sister-in-law (they went to the same church in Ft. Worth) shared a link to a 20 minute sermon Dr. Brantly gave at his home church before moving to Africa. I felt like I was in a thin and holy place, listening to this young man explain his calling to practice medicine in the far off land of Liberia. He ends his talk with these words:
“What does your calling look like? When you retell and relive your life story, what dots is God longing to connect? How does your story fit into God’s story?”
(southeastern.org Southeastern Church of Christ, Indianapolis, Indiana)
This man and his family’s story is far from over. The ripples continue on in Liberia, in neighboring countries, in Texas and in Georgia. In research facilities and in churches and in hospitals. Because he chose to “not steer a parked car”, to be obedient to a call, a God honoring and God revealing story is unfolding in epic proportions.
Stories have power. And when our stories are viewed in the context of God’s calling, the sphere of influence they contain is limitless. Your ripples matter.
*Please pray for the Brantlys, the Whitebols, and all those stories (people) in Africa affected by Ebola.
**So many words being written about this one story. Here is a link to the ripple story from the head nurse at Emory University Hospital.