I have noticed something. I call it the “Stuck In Traffic On I-25 In Rush Hour” effect. I have spent many hours on the interstate that runs through Denver these past four month, watching cars whizz past (or whizzing past cars myself). And while my nerdy mind tends to conjure a scene from a Doctor Who episode where people are stuck on / in the “motorway” in New New York (yes, I meant to put two News), there are other things I’m noticing.
Like the couple that intensely argues in the car ahead of me. What a horrible way to start your morning.
Like the woman attempting to either apply mascara or poke her eye out with a small, black, fuzzy stick.
Like the man who forgot others can see him, and is picking his nose.
Like the teenage boy who is so caught up in his music that he’s air-drumming AND air-guitaring AND singing at the top of his lungs – all at the same time. Kid has talent.
But I also notice split-second decisions are a big deal.
A guy ten cars up hits the breaks because someone just cut him off, and while no one gets hit, his braking still affects me. The car behind him had to break, and the car behind THAT car had to break, and so on and so forth. And sure, the original car has recovered, sped up and continued on toward their destination. But the cars behind it – way, way behind it – are still feeling the effects and slowing down, even if not quite as much as the original car. Thirty, forty cars later, traffic still slows down at that exact spot for a split second, and no one knows why, but it’s because that car so much earlier had to slow down, and that affects everyone.
The same is true with our lives. Sometimes the decisions you make affect you for years to come, sometimes they affect others for years to come.
And you had no idea when you were making them that this particular decision would affect others like it does.
That’s the crazy part.
One decision can affect people for years and years and years after.
And often those decisions are split-second, from-the-gut, reactions.
Like Mary (it IS Christmas after all; I have to get Christmasy at some point).
The angel appears to Mary, and tells her what’s going to happen, and Mary agrees. She accepts. Just like that. Snap of the fingers. The Bible doesn’t record her telling the angel, “Um, can I have a couple days to think about it?” Or the ever Christian – “I need to pray about it first”. Nope, she responds with, “Um, how?” And then, after the angel explains, Mary says, “I am God’s servant, may His will be done”.
Just. Like. That.
Split-second decision, and God changes all of human history through her.
Which makes me wonder. What was going on inside Mary, that “Sure God, whatever you say” was Mary’s instant, without-thinking-about-it response. She had to have been loving God ALREADY with everything in her. She had to have been ALREADY trusting and obedient, and incredibly full of faith. She had to have been allowing God to work on her ALREADY in these areas.
See, our knee-jerk reactions, our split-second decisions, the ones that we don’t have time to think through, come from our heart, from what’s inside of us. Sure, some of it is instinctual (God built fight or flight into us for a reason). But fight or flight doesn’t always apply to instant, split-second decisions. The ones that aren’t survival related are usually dictated by our heart and experiences.
Which means you need to be careful about what you’re doing, seeing, watching, thinking about. You need to make sure you’re keeping your heart healthy. Have you taken time recently to think about how your heart is doing? Is it tired? Worn out? Joyful? Content? Excited? Is it focused on God or on you?
If an angel showed up today on your doorstep and told you God was sending you to Africa tomorrow, what would your response be?
What decisions are you making that ripple out, affecting those around you, and those around them, affecting those in your house, in your friend group, in your peer groups, in your town, in your city, your nation?
Never under estimate the power of one decision, despite how insignificant it seems at the time. You never know which ones ripple out, touching the rest of your life, and the life of others.
You have no idea who your life touches.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23 NIV