October 23, 2013


One day in a little Australian town called Byron Bay I noticed a sign that read “I saw the universe change today.” Whoever wrote those words was paying attention.

God’s Three Options

According to “chaos theory,” the single movement of a butterfly’s wing may be the determining factor in the formation of a hurricane. According to the Bible, the movements of each individual life exert determinative effects on the quality of other lives, even to the point of impacting eternal destinies.

Each deed you execute triggers a series of outcomes for which you are the solitary source. 

As God went forward with the work of creation, only three conceivable possibilities lay before Him. He could create (1) machines, (2) slaves, or (3) free moral agents. Only the third option would be consistent with the aspirations of love, which is the essence of who God is. So here we are, beings of huge and magnificent significance, beings who matter so much that our actions run adjacent to God’s actions as genuinely free, beings who possess the power to create effects for which we alone are the cause, and which ripple into eternity with never-ending impact. God created humanity “in his own image” (Gen. 1:27), which means, among other things, that every human being is “endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator—individuality, power to think and to do.”1

The human being is a mind-boggling wonder. Standing in blown-away awe of what it means to be human, King David sang to the Creator, “What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!”(Ps. 8:4, 5).2 Daniel the prophet realized the weightiness of our moral influence when he said that those “who lead . . . many to righteousness” will “shine . . . like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3), while others, he said, will go down in history with “disgrace and everlasting contempt” (verse 2). Said another way, human actions carry eternal effects. 

The Difference You Make

Each deed you execute triggers a series of outcomes for which you are the solitary source.In the wake of each person’s decisions, strands of history are set in motion that otherwise would never unfold. The shape of reality itself has been and is being incrementally configured by the wondrous outworking of your will, my will, every other will, and the interplay between them all. What you do matters immensely because what you do brings into existence one relational dynamic after another, either positive or negative, that otherwise would not exist. Each deed you execute triggers a series of outcomes for which you are the solitary source.

There are people—real people with names and faces—who are what they are, who know what they know, who feel what they feel, fear what they fear, and love what they love because of you.

There is pain in the world right now that would not exist if I had not done some particular deeds that imposed it. And, no doubt, there is joy in some heart right now that would not be there if I had not given it. More amazing still, your “fingerprints,” and mine, are upon the very heart of God. Your life, and my life, have impacted the Almighty Creator of the universe. He has known grief and pain, as well as elation and joy, because of you and because of me. Jesus explained that anything I do for or against any human being registers in His heart as if done to Him. At the very least, this means that the effect of every moral action is borne by God because of His infinitely empathetic love for every person (Matt. 25:40-45). Divinity itself is injured by our wrongs and blessed by our right doing. The loss of one soul will leave God forever bereft of the companionship that might have been His if that soul had been saved, and the rescue of one soul will bestow immeasurable, eternal joy upon God’s heart.

There are men and women and children who await your impact, who crave your love, who may be morally elevated by your example, made alive by your kind words, forever saved by your revelation of the Savior’s heart. It lies within my power as a human being, made in God’s image, to actualize events and relationships of everlasting beauty that cannot come to pass apart from my choices. Every act of love I perform constitutes an infinite moral good that makes a difference to the course of history and, therefore, in the eternal scheme of reality itself. If I speak a word of encouragement to a heavy heart, it matters on a grand and eternal scale. If I visit a sick person and envelop their heart in compassion, that deed means something of staggering worth. If I feed a hungry child, doing so constitutes a crucial experience of generosity in that child’s existence, as well as in God’s existence as the Omni-benevolent One who loves that child as Himself.

Each human being’s life carries an “eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17), a weight of moral and relational dignity that only eternity itself can measure. Which means that the measurement of my life’s influence will never reach its final calculation. Each deed will ripple forever in its effect.

Take it in: the overall content of reality for other created beings and for God Himself will forever bear the mark of your individual existence, and mine. Every deed you perform stands completely alone as a new piece of reality that could not have occurred if you had not made it happen. Our lives are so astoundingly fraught with materializing significance! 

Are You Paying Attention?

Which, of course, urges the question: What will I do with my life, my weighty, grave, massively impactful life? And what will you do with yours?

Really, there is but one course to pursue: Go for broke living for God and for others. Spend and be spent for the advancement of God’s self-giving kingdom. Get, now, the awesome import of that ancient word, foundational to three world religions, spoken for Israel and you from God by His mouthpiece Moses, and reiterated by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37, 39; see Deut. 6:6; Lev. 19:18). 

So what will you do with your life today, this very hour? Look around you. There are men and women and children who await your impact, who crave your love, who may be morally elevated by your example, made alive by your kind words, forever saved by your revelation of the Savior’s heart.

“I saw the universe change today,” and it was by my choices and yours that it happened. 

Did you see it change too?

  1. Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1903), p. 17.
  2. Scripture quotations in this article are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.