HomeDooley Noted: How will your life count?

Dooley Noted: How will your life count?

In his book, The Butterfly Effect, Andy Andrews shares the story of Norman Borlaug, perhaps the most important man that you have never heard of. When he was honored by ABC News as the person of the week, most people were puzzled due to his obscurity. Those in the know, however, give Borlaug accolades for his role in saving an estimated two billion lives from the danger of famine. In the 1940s, he hybridized high yield, disease resistant corn and wheat for dry climates. Places like West Africa, South America, Siberia, and much of Asia benefitted the most from his work. He later won a Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts.

One could argue, though, that a man named Henry Wallace was primarily responsible for saving all those people instead of Norman Borlaug. Wallace was one of three vice-presidents during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. Wallace leveraged his influence to build a station in Mexico for the purpose of producing hybridized corn and wheat. Borlaug was his choice to lead the effort, but Henry Wallace deserves the greater acclaim for making it all possible.

And yet, we might need to travel back in time even further to discover the real hero behind this major step toward ending world hunger. Perhaps, George Washington Carver was the true inspiration behind the remarkable breakthrough. More of us will recognize this important name. Carver, as you might recall, invented 266 products from peanuts and 88 from sweet potatoes. His most important achievement, though, may have been his inspiring a six-year-old boy while teaching at Iowa State University. Because the instructor took the child along for his botanical experiments, his young pupil walked away with a love for plants. The boy’s name was Henry Wallace, who later became Vice-President of the Unites States and built a station in Mexico to develop weatherproof crops for the region.

Or we might need to go all the way back to Moses to identify the individual most responsible for feeding billions of people. I’m not referring to the Jewish Moses who led God’s people out of Egypt through the desert, but a simple farmer in Diamond, Missouri instead. This modern Moses did not believe in American slavery, which made him the target of bandits determined to destroy his property. One tragic evening violent criminals burned his farm to the ground and drug a woman named Mary away with her infant son. Moses and his wife Susan negotiated to exchange his only horse for the two victims. The outlaws deceived the good Samaritan by taking his horse and only returning the baby, half-dead in a burlap bag. The godly couple nursed the child back to health and later gave him a quality education to honor his mother. That rescued son was George Washington Carver. Without him, there would have been no one to inspire Henry Wallace. And without Wallace, no one would have hired Norman Borlaug. And without Borlaug, the world would be without hybridized corn and wheat. And without all those crops in arid lands, two billion people might have died (Adapted from Andy Andrews, The Butterfly Effect, 64-100).

I could keep going, but by now you get the point. Everything that we do, whether good or bad, is consequential because our lives are inseparably intertwined with others. Like dominoes in a long line of people, our actions, and the momentum they cause, impact the lives of everyone around us in ways that we can discern and in other ways that we cannot. The Bible tells us that through the first man, Adam, sin and death spread to all people thereafter (Rom. 5:12). Likewise, through one man, Jesus, God imparted eternal life to all who called on His name in faith and repentance (Rom 5:15, 17). Our lives count, whether for good or bad.

The only question remaining is how will your life influence others? Will it be positive or negative? Will the world be better or worse because you were here? Galatians 6:7-9 encourages us, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” The principles of sowing and reaping, like the butterfly effect, remind us that how we live matters.

  • You will always reap WHAT you sow.
  • You will always reap LATER than you sow.
  • You will always reap MORE than you sow.

I imagine that many of our greatest victories will not be revealed until eternity. Could it be that our finest hours were unnoticed on this earth? Is it possible that actions we thought were insignificant had the most eternal impact? How do you want your life to make a difference on this earth? Dr Adam B. Dooley is pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, TN, and author of Hope When Life Unravels. Contact him at adooley@ebcjackson.org. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBDooley.

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