I have been thinking this week about how small events turn into big events. Life operates on the Mustard Seed Principle. Organic matter becomes self-replicating, and over billions of years, tiny changes craft its descendants into the image-bearers of God. I make minor decisions here and there, and I find that they have defined everything about who I am and what I do. Dave Batstone investigates slavery in a local restaurant, and soon he gets involved with rescuing slaves all over the world.I see this principle at work in my favorite stories. In Sherlock Holmes stories, the grandest plans of villainy always begin with innocuous oddities. The red dirt on a man’s shoes becomes Holmes’s key to unravel a web of insidious plots. In Tintin comics, the purchase of a model ship leads to kidnapping, lifelong friendships, and a global treasure hunt. In the Bible, a dream leads Joseph to slavery, prison, and the second-highest post of Egypt. One night’s sleep saves the entire region from drought.I am sure that you can see the same principle at work in your own lives or in the stories you love. Slightly different decisions would have led us all down entirely different paths.
I find this idea, at once, encouraging and horrifying. I love to think that I can control my future by maintaining my daily decisions. “Think not for the morrow, for today has enough trouble of its own.” But in the same moment that the Mustard Seed Principle gives me control, it burdens me with responsibility. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just take big moments seriously and slack off on the rest?
Well, perhaps this blog entry is trying a bit too hard to be deep. All I really wanted to say was this: As a kid, I thought that the adventures of Herge and Alfred Hitchcock and Arthur Conan Doyle and George Lucas were delightful fictions, but now I see that they followed the true patterns of life. Life can be a grand adventure, you know, if only we seek out small adventures today.
And I think that’s among the happiest news this cynical heart ever heard.