Dropping Pebbles of Kindness in Troubled Waters
Dropping Pebbles of Kindness in Troubled Waters
by Lonnie Lane
Two friends and I were enjoying a mini-pot-luck dinner together this weekend. One of us was telling of a car mechanic who was rude, and had a bad attitude, not to mention not repairing her car as he should have. How as Believers should we respond to such situations? Yes, he needs to make good his work, but should she have written him off as a loser, just a bad guy to avoid? We began to pray for him, to bless him, for God to heal whatever in his heart happened to him to cause him such bitterness. Who knows, we pondered, if his wife didn’t leave him that morning, or if he has a sick child and is pre-occupied with worry? Or whatever.
We decided he needs some TLC from the Lord. She would go back, and while requiring he fix what wasn’t fixed properly, she would attempt to reach out with some word of kindness. Maybe even present that potentially life-changing question: “Has anyone ever told you that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life?” It’s amazing what responses you get from folks when you ask them that question — everything from tears, to smiles, to “No, no one ever has,” to “Yes, praise the Lord” (then you’ve found a sister or a brother in the Lord), to “Not me. I’ve done too much,” which certainly opens up the conversation to tell them about Jesus dying for just that reason, to make unacceptable people acceptable in God’s sight. And yes, sometimes you get rejection. On occasion someone just walks away, but rarely.
We continued to talk about how many people there are ‘out there’ who could be encouraged just by someone putting a little love in their smile or their voice as they address them. Someone who returns nastiness with niceness. There are a lot of lonely people in the world today, especially with so many family break-ups. Rejection permeates the self-image of so many. The saying, “Reach out and touch someone” may not be a bad idea. Just a touch on the arm or shoulder may go a long way to making someone feel worthy of being touched. They may not have been touched for a long time. Maybe that’s why Yeshua reached out and touched the leperous man when He healed him. He could have just spoken the word to heal him. But maybe He was healing something in his soul as well as his body, letting him know he’s no longer “untouchable.”
Perhaps when we spread some of God’s love around, when we touch someone, they’ll respond in kind to the
“Only God really knows how far the ripples in the wake of a pebble of kindness goes out when we drop it into someone else’s life.”
next person. You know, like “passing it forward.” Only God really knows how far the ripples in the wake of a pebble of kindness goes out when we drop it into someone else’s life. Makes me smile just to consider that I could affect the life of people I don’t even know by being loving to someone I do know. We each have a sphere of influence, just as those whom we influence do. Why not make it a good influence, even if it’s a tiny one? We all can do the same. Kind of like being Kingdom messengers on a mission for the King to spread His goodness around in alien territory. How’s that for being a visionary?
I’ve come to newly appreciate some of my own Dad’s wisdom, even though he’s been with the Lord for a while. For some reason, some of what he told me in the years gone by have surfaced recently. Things like: “Action dispels fear” to a friend who is paralyzed with fear of making a wrong choice. Or “When in doubt, don’t” which helped me turn away from a confusing situation that would not have turned out for my good in the end. But the one that seemed to fit in the discussion with my two friends was remembering him telling me to talk to strangers. Now clearly most Dads today would tell you NOT to talk to strangers. But my dad was an optimist who was sure that he could cheer up anyone’s day with just a smile. “You never know,” he said, “that you would turn their day from a bad one to a good one just by letting them know you care about them, even if it’s only with a smile.” Whenever we were in a restaurant, he would always ask the waiter or waitress their name, address them by their name and thank them for their service. He treated them like they mattered, and to him, they did! He made a lot of friends that way.
I guess this apple (me) didn’t fall far from that tree (Dad). I love seeing how I can just greet someone in a department store, an elevator, dentist office or wherever. I try and find something to like about them: “Cute kid you have there;” “Oh excuse me. You go first.” Or “Can I reach that for you?” Recently I saw a woman seated on a bench feeding a bottle to a baby in a mall. She looked like she was deep in thought and the thoughts weren’t good ones. She looked really worried. As I walked past her I began to pray for her. I felt that God loved her and was going to take care of what concerned her. I decided to tell her that. I mean, if you know something was going to turn our right for someone who was in pain about something, why not tell them, right?
So I went back to her and said, “Excuse me, ma’am. I hope you don’t mind, but I feel the Lord wants you to know that what concerns you is going to turn out alright. He knows about it and He’s on it.” Well, her entire
“Blessing others for God can be extremely habit forming.”
countenance changed and she beamed up at me with the greatest smile, and whispered, “Oh thank you, thank you so much.” I just patted her on the shoulder and gave it a squeeze and went my way rejoicing. I don’t know who was happier, her or me. The joy of the Lord!! He shares His joy with those who share His love with others. But warning: It can be addictive. Blessing others for God can be extremely habit forming.
As I continued to think about how rejection or worry can be turned to God’s acceptance and blessings, that Sunday, knowing my love for history and how it winds around people’s lives, a wonderful woman of God in my congregation handed me a little booklet she thought I would enjoy. It was about Leah. You know, the rejected wife of Jacob who loved her younger sister Rachel more. Jacob was given Leah as his wife, unbeknownst to him, when he thought he was getting Rachel. The older daughter must be married first, the custom goes. OK, she was under a veil at the wedding, so he could have missed it with all the noise and dancing so he didn’t hear her voice. And methinks that Jacob must have been somewhat snickered after the wedding to not notice it was Leah in his bed and not Rachel, but whatever. It happened. The morning after, it was too late. Consummated marriage!
The arrangement then became that he would work another seven years to pay for wife #2, Rachel, who was really wife #1 in his mind and heart. Rachel was the cherished wife, while Leah was the reject. Leah’s name leaves one to believe she was less than vivacious as her name (pronounced Lay-AH) means weary, with the root of the name meaning to tire, to be or make disgusted, faint, or to grieve. Poor Leah. Rachel on the other hand means a ewe, a sheep; a cute little lambie pie. So as between Rachel and Leah and who Jacob loved, no contest.
However, as it happens, sons being the greatest asset and treasure of any man in those days, it was not Rachel who conceived sons, but Leah. Evidently Leah was not so unattractive or too weary to have been excluded from her conjugal rights, for she conceived six sons and one daughter. Eventually, as we know, Rachel finally did give birth to Joseph long after Jacob’s other sons were born, and then she died in childbirth when finally Benjamin was born.
Side note: Had Rachel not hidden her father’s idol in her saddlebag when they left Haran, she might have lived to raise her boys, but for all her beauty and Jacob’s love of her, her own heart was not for the Lord. She may be regarded as a matriarch of Judaism but I wonder, in our terms today, was the lady actually saved? Guess we’ll have to wait and see if we find her in heaven.
So what about Leah? How she handled her grief of her rejection is seen in the names she gave her sons. When she gave birth to her first, she named him Reuben which means, “Behold, a son!” She had high expectations with the birth of this little boy and said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now” (Gen. 29:32). Her second son she named Simeon, which means “Heard” which she explained this way: “Because the Lord has heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too” (29:33). Makes you kind of feel as if you’re eavesdropping on her deepest longing, doesn’t it, which you know didn’t happen as she hoped. Jacob had sex with her though he didn’t love her. And so she conceived yet another son and named him Levi which means “Attached” expecting that “Now at last my husband will become attached to me because I have borne him three sons” (29:34). This is getting embarrassing, listening in on her thoughts. However, Jacob still doesn’t seem to have favored her over Rachel.
Finally, with the birth of her fourth son, her heart seems to have gone from seeking Jacob’s love to seeking the Lord, for she named him Judah, meaning “Praise” saying, “This time I will praise the Lord” (29:35). A scenario goes on which sounds like one of those R rated TV series we don’t watch. Several more sons are born through both Rachel and Leah’s two maid servants named respectively Dan and Naphtali to Bilhah, then Gad and Asher to Zilpah. Then God reopens Leah’s womb and she had two more sons, Issachar and Zebulun. Finally Rachel gives birth to Joseph and then later still, Benjamin whom Leah then raises because her sister Rachel died when Benjamin was born.
We have no idea how long Leah outlived her sister, but we do know that Jacob’s dying words were that he wished to be buried, not with Rachel at Bethlehem, but with Leah who was buried with his forbearers in the cave at Machpelah in Hebron. (Gen. 49:31). Perhaps she gained his favor after all because he mentions Leah’s name, not those of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca who are buried there and with whom he wishes to be buried. I’m also wondering if God didn’t want Rachel buried with those who looked to God, as Rachel seems not to have. Hmm. I wonder.
We could say Leah had a life of rejection, one of having been forced into a marriage by her father, and living with a man who didn’t love her, and a sister who resented her. Yet when we look at the “fruit” of Leah’s life, it is astounding how she contributed to the unfolding of God’s plan. For one thing, the priestly line of Levi comes through Leah, which means that Moses, Aaron and Miriam were her descendents. What would we be without if there were no Moses? No Exodus from Egypt perhaps, no Ten Commandments, and Torah altogether. Moses was uniquely crafted by God for the task God gave him. It was not a job just anyone could have filled.
Leah’s descendent Caleb was one of the two who saw only God’s ability for them to take the Land when all the others, except for Joshua, saw only giants that would defeat them. Caleb, it seems, may have had the same spiritual make-up that Leah had to endure in the midst of discouragement. At the age of 85 which was 45 years after Israel resisted going in to take the Land, Caleb said, “I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Give me this hill country that the Lord promised me” (Joshua 14:11). As the little pamphlet telling this story said about Caleb, he was a man like Leah who would say, “Never give up, never give in, and never sit down in self-pity, resignation or defeat!” It reminds me of words I’ve heard Golda Meier is quoted to have said many times when she was Prime Minister of Israel, “Failure is not an option!” That is to say, never give up or give in. Well, amen to that.
Leah’s fourth son, Judah, was King David’s ancestor, as well as King Solomon’s. Without them we wouldn’t have the Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs or Ecclesiates. And for that matter, there would be no stories to tell in Samuel and Kings. From Leah also comes the high priests, all the priests and the Levites and all the kings of Judah. Additionally, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were all priests and therefore came from Leah’s line. Nehemiah was likely from Judah and therefore from Leah as well. Imagine if she had lived long enough for them to have had a huge big cousins club meeting or family reunion, who would have been there!
But it doesn’t end here. Both Mary and Joseph were of the tribe of Judah, Leah’s fourth son. Elizabeth and Zechariah were of the tribe of Levi, her third son, as was John the Baptizer. What it comes down to, is if there had been no Leah, there could possibly have been no Yeshua (Jesus). No Yeshua, no salvation. Oh, perish the thought! And the gospel would not have been spread through Barnabas, another descendent of Levi.
It appears, that outward beauty is not what God would have been looking for — we know that about Him. Even for
“Each decision and each action for godliness or endurance, rather than selfishness or to give up or blame another, counts!”
those who are weary, there is a destiny for them. God planned for the lineage He wanted to bring about in His plans for Israel and for mankind to come from a woman with just Leah’s character. The things she went through sculpted her into the woman who finally gave praise to God and looked to Him for her reward. God even saw to it that not Rachel but Leah raised Joseph after a time, and Benjamin from his birth. She lived her life one day at a time as we do, but each day sowed into the future, just as our days do. Each decision and each action for godliness or endurance, rather than selfishness or to give up or blame another, counts! They count for a long time, perhaps. They may help make the day — or collectively, the future destiny of others who come after you. How we respond to one situation, added to all the other situations, makes up a life-time of character that has impact on the people with whom we interact each day. It always matters!
I find this all a reminder to give some thought before responding, or when we reach out to touch someone, ask God to bless it so that it gathers momentum for good as that person chooses to bless someone else because you blessed them. During a very difficult time in my life God gave me a verse that kept me going. It was, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21). This verse kept a watch over my mouth in a day when I felt I had good cause for doing otherwise. It has become a way of life.
Not too long ago I heard the Lord tell me when I felt myself withdrawing into myself due to a set of circumstances, “Be a blessing wherever you are.” So I decided to do just that and the result was meeting some new women that very morning which turned into starting a whole new Bible study group — all because I choose to bless and cheerfully reach out to welcome some others instead of staying enclosed in my own thoughts and oblivious to those around me. That too — “Be a blessings wherever you are” — has become a banner under which I’m choosing to live daily. It’s a choice. Every day.
In the times we live in, when love and kindness may be in short measure for some folks, we who aren’t really citizens of this place anyway, but of the Kingdom of God, live by a different standard — one of love and forgiveness. Even the car mechanic who doesn’t repair your car correctly may be just the person to need a smile and a kind word today. You never know what will turn around as a result. Remember Leah? Her daily caring for children wound up making her part of a destiny of God’s great plan for mankind. You may not even have children, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t affect the world around you for good. And only God knows how far the ripples of that pebble of kindness may go. You may have to wait till you get to heaven to find out. But they’ll be there. No good thing is wasted or goes unnoticed in the Kingdom of our good King. It all matters! So do you.
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2009.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.