The Butterfly Effect

One year ago today was very special; I just didn’t know it at the time.

It was a Sunday morning, and for whatever reason, even if only because I hadn’t been there in a while, I decided to visit a different congregation within our faith; a larger one here in Richmond. After the service, I talked to two people in particular: Brad and Linda. I asked them how they were doing; Brad said he and his family had just gotten back from the Outer Banks, and Linda said her family was getting ready to go down there. Until that day, I had just been planning on going to Virginia Beach for a weekend in September, but after talking to Brad and to Linda, it was settled: I was going to plan a weekend trip to the Outer Banks instead. I hadn’t been there since I was just a kid (in fact, my family and Linda’s family used to vacation together there).

Almost immediately, I began looking forward to it; I did whatever research I could and decided what I wanted to do and see (mostly involving the beach and Lighthouses), and booked a hotel room in Kitty Hawk for September 9-12. The rest of August felt like a year.

Just before leaving home on the morning of September 9, I looked for an old CD of Handel’s Messiah; I had never listened to the whole thing straight through, and I figured a 3 hour trip to the Outer Banks would be just the amount of time needed.

I LOVED Messiah; so much that I kept listening to that CD, many times through, ever since then, and on my facebook page, starting on November 1 of last year, I wrote a paragraph about each of the 53 movements—using Scripture of course—one for each day up to December 23.

Those three days were so relaxing even though I was constantly on-the-go—for instance, on that Friday morning, I left my hotel room at about 8 AM and didn’t get back until after 1 AM; I’d been gone for 17 hours, visiting Bodie Island Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and Ocracoke Island. One of the highlights though was meeting so many great people, from all over the east coast; some of which I still keep in touch with regularly. Right when I arrived, I met one of the locals who gave me some advice as to where to go. On Friday, there was this one couple that I kept running into between the line for the Ocracoke Ferry, and Ocracoke Island, and the ferry ride back to Hatteras; that Saturday night I met a few really great people at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and stayed out there til almost midnight.

As soon as I left on that Sunday morning, I was already planning my next trip there (which happened this past April).

I think back to that weekend quite often and how the little things led to something great: if I hadn’t visited the Richmond Chapel a year ago today, I never would have gained such an appreciation for Handel’s Messiah, the Outer Banks would have never become my new favorite place, and I never would have met the great Jordan, Chris, Ted, Laura, Tom, Kevin, and Lori, and I wouldn’t have those photos from the Lighthouses and the sunrises over the beach (of which multiple people have now bought prints) to add to my photography portfolio. It’s one of my favorite instances of “the Butterfly Effect” that I’ve ever experienced.

If you think about it though, you and I are the products of the Butterfly Effect, in a way; consider all that had to happen, all your ancestors, each of which had to exist and live long enough to bring someone else into the world; each of which had so many different experiences and made so many different decisions in life that led them to getting together with someone else who brought forth someone else; a relating cycle leading all the way to your grandparents, then your parents, and now you. The LORD had you in mind thousands of years ago. Rarely does he do something big all-of-a-sudden; when he does something, it is the product of years—maybe decades or centuries—of behind-the-scenes activity, leading you to where you are now. He is working with you, even though at times it may not seem so.

There is a radio talk show host who begins every hour of his broadcast by reminding his audience, “this IS the day the LORD has made (quoting from Psalm 118:24), and these ARE the times in which God has decided for us to live.” With that, as he says, comes a unique set of responsibilities. The LORD declares the end from the beginning, and ancient times from what is still to come (Isaiah 46:10).

God has determined, despite everything that goes on in the world, for you to be here right now, this day; therefore rejoice and be glad within it.

Grace and peace,

Dan

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