Frances Shaw

Small things make a difference. Trying to get home from the other side of Guildford when the A3 and all surrounding roads were gridlocked, I decided to sit it out in a café. I had checked the traffic on my phone so often that the battery ran out. Some people at the next table, seeing my frustration, offered me their phone to make a call – probably a small thing to them, but a big thing for me.

Someone called Edward Lorenz coined what is known as the ‘butterfly effect’-  the concept that small events can have large, widespread consequences. The name comes from his suggestion that a massive storm might have its roots in the faraway flapping of a tiny butterfly's wings.

Apparently this is only the first part of what Lorenz actually said. He went on to say that although science might suggest that any prediction is possible as long as we have enough information, in reality, the larger meaning of the butterfly effect is not that we can readily track such connections, but that we can't.

We tend to think that the world should be comprehensible, that everything happens for a reason, and we can pinpoint all those reasons, however small they may be. But nature, and human nature in particular, defies this expectation.

We may not think our ‘flapping’ makes any difference at all. On the other hand, it may set off a ‘storm’. God calls us to be faithful and to leave the ‘completion’ to Him (Phil. 1.6).

As Bishop Festo Kivengere once said, ‘I’m just an ordinary Christian. There are no extraordinary Christians anywhere, just ordinary ones saved by an extraordinary Saviour’.