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  • "A Musing Pastor"

The Theology of the Domino Effect

It was just a drink. Granted, it was sitting on an automobile roof, but none the less it was a trivial matter. I watched as the lady placed the drink on her car roof then proceeded to buckle her daughter into the back seat. The care and consideration for her child and the safety precautions were welcome sights in a world that often cuts corners and forgets civility and protocol. As I watched, it became apparent the drink was a forgotten detail and the lady walked to her driver door and jumped in. The drink looked out of place and for a moment I thought, "Huh, too bad about that lady and her drink."

Chick Fil A, started by Truett Cathy, is an inviting place where good food, pleasant employees, and great service are staples in their success. It might be one of the few places I can insert my credit card into the machine and within 2 seconds be instructed to withdraw my card because the transaction is complete. There is no question whether I want money back, no request for PIN, no "hit cancel" direction. The whole experience for me is always a 'feel good' event when I eat at this establishment. The order is given my name!

So it was in this happy place of contentment I watched the lady about to lose her drink. Then something stirred within me to do something. For about 5 seconds I twitched back in forth in my seat, then bolted for the door and ran across the parking lot. It isn't likely I would have moved from my seat had I not experienced gracious hospitality in the fast food eatery.

Talk about those awkward moments in a life! The lady noticed me approaching her car at a run and carefully lowered her window just a little. I gasped, "your drink is still on your car roof." The look she offered and her response affirmed all I needed to hear at that moment. "Oh thank you so much!" I retrieved her drink, handed it through her window, and offered her a "good day".

In the grand scheme of things, it didn't bring world peace, it didn't cause every human to immediately become compassionate, not did it stop world hunger. But in that moment in North Carolina, there was a domino effect of love and care that played itself out in the form of a kind gesture.

Lest you think I am patting myself on the back, I am not. For every time I have done a good deed, there are 100 times I have berated a driver, glared at a shopper, or ignored someone in distress. Each day brings life. Life brings moments of clarity and vagueness. The contrast between these competing claims is often driven by past experiences. If I have been offered grace and hospitality, likely I will return in kind. If I have met with an obstinate situation, then often my response will be one of gruff response. This is not helpful and not welcomed.

(Photo courtesy of

In the words of the late Paul Harvey, "And now, the rest of the story." It wasn't 2 minutes before this event that the lady and her rather rambunctious daughter had sat near us in the restaurant. The little one was loud and having a fun time. As they finished their meal and rose to leave, the lady said, "excuse me" as her daughter brushed past us briskly. She wanted to acknowledge the daughter's inattention to our personal space. I didn't think the apology was necessary since I was in a happy place to begin with. In the lady's world, saying, "excuse me" was the right order of things. In retrospect, her kind gesture may have been precipitated by the employees of the eatery....maybe not. One domino falls to gently nudge another and so the order of the game of life takes shape.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being

content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do

everything through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles."

(Philippians 4:12-14, NIV)

Today, take note of those things that influence your thoughts and use the good to foster more good. Guard against the irritating and capture those ill feelings and deposit them into the garbage disposal. The domino effect is real.

"A Musing Pastor"

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