I have a friend who lives just down the road from a large and lovely lake. When I visit her, I often take my morning walk to the lake and back. I like to pause above the lake, to feel the breeze as it skims across the water and blows through my hair, to smell the tang of the water, to hear the splish-splash of the fish.

But most of all, I like to watch the ripples.

Whether they start with a pebble thrown into the center, or a bird finding its daily nourishment, or a fish yearning to break the surface of its world—those ripples begin with a choice, an action, and they move outward in ever increasing circles until they bump against another choice, another action.

Then those circles swirl around each other in a frenzy as they react and adjust to each other, their predictable and concentric pattern broken.

Sort of like us.

We make our choices and the ripples start. But because we’re not the only fish in the pond, our ripples bump together. Our patterns disrupt and distort the patterns of others, and vice versa.

A big part of God’s purpose is that we all will be tried and tested. We all need the experience and the challenge of dealing with ripples.

The scriptures say that God would never tempt a man to sin. He doesn’t have to. We all more than sufficiently do that for each other.

We will all be foolish or selfish or ignorant or proud—sometimes by accident, sometimes by intention. But either way, we throw plenty of challenges into each other’s paths.

The miracle is that no matter how challenged we are, no matter how disrupted or distorted or dysfunctional our ripples become, God can create a new pattern from them. He can lead us through the ripples and back to the smooth waters.

~Karlene B. (capturing based on writing by Colleen H.)

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