A few weeks ago I took some vacation time and our family headed south. Disney? Gatlinburg? The beach? Nope. We found a place that is doing, on a small scale, what we hope Restoration Farm will do. It was a small cabin in the woods of Tennessee outside of Ashland City. It was an awesome week. If I didn’t have to go get earthworms so that we could go fishing, we wouldn’t have seen anyone. It was incredible. While we were on the property, we spent most of our time around the pond, doing a whole lot of nothing while drowning some worms.
One afternoon as we were sitting on the little dock, we used the time to reinforce a lesson we have taught our boys for quite some time. While we were sitting there, the water was like glass! Completely calm. One of the boys threw a small pebble into the water. My wife quickly saw the ripples and said, “Do you boys see that! Did you notice what happened when you threw the pebble into the water?” She then grabbed another pebble and got ready to throw it in. Before she tossed it into the water, she said, “I want you to pay attention to the ripples. Watch how far they go out.” As she threw it we all watched. The effect of that small pebble being thrown into the pond was visible all the way to the shore line.
If our boys have heard it once, they have heard it a million times. It has become almost a weekly conversation in our house and our boys can finish our sentences when we state these two things. Every decision you make has two things. 1) A consequence and 2) A Ripple Effect. Our weekly conversation also consists of the 2 facts that every decision you make, no matter how small or how large, has either a positive consequence or a negative consequence and your ripple effect will undoubtedly have an affect on not only yourself but others. ‘Others’ could be those you personally know well but ‘others’ can also reach farther to those you don’t know and even far into future generations.
When the boys were able to physically see the ripples move out away from that little pebble, it was as if a lightbulb came on for them. It wasn’t just us saying it yet again. They could actually see the effect. Those ripples opened up a door for us to talk about things like lying , dating, doing things everyone else are doing etc..
My wife comes from a long line of alcoholics on both sides of her family. She knows the potential result of picking up any form of alcohol and how that could potentially lead to major downfall. She has family members who have lost literally EVERYTHING…. Spouse, children, job, house, cars, self worth…. Everything. The crazy thing is, most of those family members never thought about the consequences or the ripple effect their decision would have after that first, second or third sip. Yet, because of their decision so many of us on the “outside” never even thought it would affect us and we have suffered in some way. The ripple effect. It’s real, it’s strong and it’s powerful.
On the flip side of that coin, she has also experienced the positive consequence. About 38 years ago, my father-in-law was an alcoholic. His mother had been praying for him for a long time. Don, my father-in-law was sent out on an errand by his parents to get some meat for Christmas while his sister and brother-in-law were in town. While Don and his brother-in-law went out to get the meat, Don mentioned God. He says after that he doesn’t remember much about the drive home other than just crying uncontrollably. When they got back to his parents, his brother-in-law asked Don if he would like to ask Jesus into his heart and forgive him of his sins. Don did just that and said from that moment on, his life was radically different. The ripple effect in Don’s life looks like an alcoholic getting saved and starting to serve Christ by answering the call to full time ministry. Just think for a minute about the ripples in his life. Think about the people that were changed for all eternity because of his encounter with Christ.
Now, because my father-in-law allowed Christ to change his life, I am married to a wonderful woman who, I am convinced, loves Jesus more than me and has a desire to create ripples for all eternity. Tiffany is a product of the life altering ripples that her father experienced and I am forever grateful.
So, what does that mean for the Dennis family and Restoration Farm? We are believing and trusting that as we step out in faith, God will cause this decision to follow His leading to be full of positive consequences and create ripples in other peoples lives for all eternity. I recently was challenged by a thought a friend of mine had when he spoke about entering heaven. He said that he is looking forward to standing before Christ as he enters. However, he said there is a fear that Christ is going to tell him that there are a few people that want to welcome him in to heaven. His fear is that the line of people that are welcoming him into heaven (that he had ultimately lead to Christ) would only take him about 10 minutes to get through. His passion is to have soooo many more come to know Christ through his life here on earth!
Our overarching goal is to create so many ripples in so many “ponds” that the gates of hell are forever shaken because we were willing. We desire to be willing to love, minister to, pray with/for, encourage, provide for and link arms with pastors and families who are on the front lines leading people to the Throne of Grace. Some of those men and women are being worn thin and are needing a place to go and find restoration. Some of their families are being broken and misunderstood and need someone to listen to their hearts. Some of their children are being shown all the negatives of full time ministry and need to be shown all the positives and amazing blessings of this privilege.
Jesus, may the ripple effect of our obedience to your call for Restoration Farm change the course of history… not for us or for a legacy to leave behind but for your kingdom! May the lives of those you have called and their families be forever changed because of how they experience your presence while at Restoration Farm. We declare encouragement, rest, revision, a renewed passion, deep seeded fire, unity within families, a love for your people and the ministry you have for them to be the difference for each one. Amen.