Saturday, March 4, 2017

Butterfly Effect

There are generations yet unborn whose very lives will be shifted and shaped by the moves you make and the actions you take today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. -Andy Andrews
Turn the knob.
It’s a phrase that has changed my perspective for the better this year.  It seems simple enough but it is a process that requires action.  Often in life, I have tried to imagine what was behind the door, what would be waiting for me if I were to open it without ever actually walking through it. I believe fully in discernment and good judgment  but sometimes there is nothing you can do about a situation or an outcome except to turn the knob and allow God to open or close the door after that.
I think about all the many people who were on the verge of their dreams or answers or cures or a whole new chapter in their life and they chose not to turn the knob. I think maybe sometimes—I’ve been that person. Life seems like a revolving door and our instinct is to get away as quickly as we can but we never discover what is waiting on the other side.
Author and Alabama native Andy Andrews has shaped me in numerous ways through his books and he recently opened my mind to yet another interesting theory in life. He relates it to that of the “butterfly effect,” believing that every life touches another. One of his prime examples is the life of George Washington Carver—a brilliant and loved botanist and inventor who chose to turn the knob and make a difference. His main goal was to make life better for farmers and for mankind. One of his most notable achievements is the discovery of over 105 recipes for peanuts, including peanut butter, and over 100 products made from peanuts like gasoline, plastic, paints and cosmetics that we still use today.
George, along with a young boy he mentored named Henry Wallace (future Vice President under Roosevelt and Secretary  of Agriculture), saved many lives and their work still carries over into our world today. Andy asks readers, however, to ponder who is to actually receive credit for saving lives. Perhaps credit should go to the person who wrote about plants and inspired George to become a botanist. Or maybe it should go to the teacher who taught that author how to read and write in the first place. Maybe it is the man who decided to build the school, where the teacher taught the author to read. Maybe it is the doctor who delivered the man, who built the school, where the teacher taught her students. Then again, credit could go to the Carvers who rescued and adopted George as their own son and who instilled a lifelong love of learning. Trying to separate impact on a life is like trying to count the grains of sand—it could go on forever.
It bewilders me to think that somewhere in the span of that, I have a distinct place. I have people who made choices that impacted my life; many of which I don’t even personally know. And I have the power to do the same, that is, if I choose it. It keeps me in awe how much our lives really do effect one another but I know it doesn’t surprise God. He looks from one generation to the next and empowers and equips us with the things we need; the people we need. He orchestrates all things with a lineal timeline in mind. God’s understanding of the world far exceeds ours and He lovingly waits for us to see the way one action stretches into the lives of many others. George Washington Carver pointed up as well. He said, “The secret of my success? It is simple. I found it in the Bible: In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths.”
I believe more than ever God is calling us to step out on faith, turn the knob and change the world in the way only we can. We may just be the reason someone else does something amazing. I think Andy Andrews would call it “making the lost choice” to impact others with our actions. The character of Carver in his narrative asks multiple people, “Do you pledge to do something special with your life?” I pose the same question.
George Washington Carver put it beautifully this way: “No individual has the right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.”
Make the world a better place. Explore all opportunities. Flap your wings so that the world notices. Turn the Knob.
-Only Hope
A lot of this post was inspired by Andy Andrew's books, The Lost Choice  and The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters
The phrase, “Turn the knob” came into my life from my friend, Caroline Feltman.

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