Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
- Jesus, Matthew 11:28-30
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it.
- Hebrews 12:2
It’s all connected. Don’t convince yourself otherwise.
I remember one day several years ago when I heard the findings of an experiment in 1995 that re-introduced wolves into the Yellowstone National Park boundaries after not having a wolf pack there in over 70 years. The whole story is explained above in this beautiful 5 minute video (you really do have 5 available minutes to watch this, regardless of what you tell yourself).
After 20 years, what researchers found was evidence of an amazing “trophic cascade.” A trophic cascade is a change in ecology that begins near the top of a food chain and changes everything beneath it. Ecologists began to see that because wolves were introduced, far more was affected than just the assumed impact of less deer. In fact, the end result of the wolves' presence was more tree growth, a number of new species returning to the national park, and even a shift in the physical landscape of the park! Shockingly, the paths of rivers were altered by the changing growth due to the wolves. One small group of wolves changed the entire ecosystem in more ways than anyone imagined.
We are a people and a culture longing for transformed lives but too exhausted to make all of the massive changes to see growth. Maybe we’ve been thinking about it wrong, however. Maybe, instead of an ever-growing list of areas I want to do better at…. maybe we need to learn what leads to a trophic cascade in our soul- and simply start there.
Perhaps the little things that we think we don’t have time for because we are too tired or overwhelmed are the exact things that open our souls up to the far-reaching transformative power of God’s love. As spiritual and physical beings, our selves are more connected than we admit. It's easy to overlook the reality that the stress or conflicts we are dealing with today may be directly related to a conversation or experience that occurred the week before. Our compartmentalized lives make us feel like everything that happens is independent. But the reality is that it’s all connected. And just as the negative moments can have long-term impact, the positive inputs that we introduce to our spiritual ecology can have far reaching consequences. When we invite simple practices of connection with Jesus into our daily lives, we find that Jesus cascades down to the deepest depths and transforms things we never imagined.
Perhaps those moments of pause in the morning or evening to read scripture, to take a walk with Jesus, or to reflect on your day in light of God’s kingdom— perhaps those small moments are the beginning of a trophic cascade in your life, that will eventually allow Jesus to shift your perspective on everything.
-We begin to pause each day, and we become less susceptible to crippling schedule stress.
-We remember where our worth and value lies and so we have less conflicts with others because we are less easily offended.
-We experience God’s grace enough that we begin to be more patient with our children.
-We train ourselves to see beauty for a few moments every day, until we start to see beauty everywhere we look.
There is indeed a trickle down effect of time with Jesus. It will always affect the ecology of our inner and outer lives in surprising ways. Wolves revitalized the landscape of Yellowstone National Park. Jesus revitalizes the landscape of our hearts, souls, minds, and actions.
Maybe start small today? Just sit simply with Jesus and be delighted.
Jesus, spread your influence to the far-reaching places in me.