Unintended consequences. We all experience them from time to time. We do something or we say something and whatever we have done or said has some consequence that goes beyond what we ever intended. On occasion the consequence is negative and hurtful and therefore quite unfortunate. We really do need to be careful with our words and actions. Sometimes they can bring hurt or disappointment that we never intended. There have been times when I have had to apologize for the unintended consequence of something I have said or done.
Sometimes, however, our unintended consequences can be quite surprising and pleasant in a positive way. Here is my most recent example.
Many of you know that I created a stained glass window for the stairwell of the church. For a long time I’ve looked at that window and thought it would be the perfect place for a stained glass window. As a gift to the church for the 50th anniversary, many months ago I began designing and creating the window which was put in place the week before we were having our 50th anniversary celebration.
With the help of a few of our guys, we hoisted the window up and set it in place making sure it was well secured. That being done I admit that I was pleased with the finished product. I also admit that I was a bit nervous about making that window. It was by far the largest stained glass work I had ever attempted and I wondered how it would turn out. I even made a smaller proto-type that is now hanging in my office window to make sure I thought the colors looked right and the design would work.
After the window was installed, I think it was a day later, I happened to find myself needing to go downstairs for something. Most often when that is the case I take the stairs rather than the elevator. It was about 5 o’clock in the afternoon and when I entered the staircase I was greeted with the unintended consequence of putting a stained glass piece in that window. The sun was shining brightly through the window and the colors were being projected onto the wall of the stairwell and it was absolutely beautiful. The actual design was not discernable but it didn’t matter. Just color; beautiful, vibrant color splashed on the wall. A beautiful unintended consequence that caused me to pause and ponder.
I wonder if by taking certain actions we can help create an atmosphere where unintended consequences of a positive nature can more easily flourish? What if we were more positive with our words to those around us? Would that create an atmosphere where they might see their day in a more positive light? What if we were slower with our criticism and quicker with our praise? Would that create an atmosphere where others felt affirmed and appreciated in ways that might prove at times to be life altering?
Psalm 19 ends with these words, “Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgressions. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Ps. 19: 13-14) Perhaps if that became our prayer the Lord could use it to create positive “unintended consequences” in the lives of those around us.
Together with you in Christ’s service,