I sat on the couch in the early morning silence peacefully reading. Doug was out learning how to hunt. The kids were still in bed. One cat was curled up on the floor across the room. Another was beside me on the couch. But the third had gone outside for her morning constitutional. I saw her leap up into the living room window, indicating to me that she was ready to come back inside. I figured she could wait a few minutes. So, book in hand, bookmark resting in my lap, I continued to peacefully read.
Then the noise started.
Screeching. Wailing. Growling. Hissing. Something had made the cat mad.
In all honesty, I know our cats can take care of and defend themselves in the great out of doors. Otherwise I wouldn’t let them out there. But, when I hear the loud noises of a highly agitated cat (or two) and know that one of our cats is outside, my protective instincts kick in. I tossed aside the book, jumped up off the couch, and flew to the door. I flipped on the light to let the cat know I was opening the door. Almost immediately she came flying across the yard and bolted into the house.
Crisis over, I sat back down, retrieved my book, and resumed my reading. But, I immediately noticed that the book mark was missing. I looked all over the couch but didn’t find it. I figured it would turn up eventually. I finished reading, spent some time in prayer, picked up my computer to check email and such, and then happened to look across the room toward the dining room. On the floor ten feet away from the couch, far from anywhere I’d been since first entering the living room, lay my bookmark.
Apparently the force of springing up from the couch had launched the bookmark from my lap all the way across the room! I was rather stunned! I had no idea my actions had that big of an effect.
Immediately, applications began swimming through my mind. Every one of my actions has an effect. The problem is that I can never truly know how far-reaching that effect is. I never would have dreamed that rising quickly would have launched the bookmark that far. In the same way, I can never imagine how far my words reach. How loudly my interaction with my children speaks. How powerfully my marriage impacts others.
It makes for a rather sobering and intimidating thought. To be honest, I sometimes would rather just be a hermit and not influence anyone at all for fear of having a negative effect. But, I just cannot do that. I am called to be a light in this world. So, the only other option is to pay very close attention to all I do.
I will never be completely perfect this side of heaven. I will make many mistakes. Many very visible mistakes at that! But through it all I must be aware that my words and actions have the capacity for far-reaching impact.