Chances are you’ve likely been to Yellowstone National Park. If so, I think you’ll agree with me that it’s one of the most fascinating places in America, covering more than 3,500 square miles.
A couple of decades ago scientists began to notice that the ecosystem of the park was changing. They sensed that the park was not as vibrant, not as verdant. The animal population seemed to be dwindling, there were more patches of brown vegetation, less robust flow in the streams.
So in 1995 they made a rather bizarre decision: They re-introduced a pack of 14 wolves into the park. Wolves. Almost before their eyes, Yellowstone began to change. Wolves are great hunters so predictably the deer population began to dwindle. With fewer deer now, their previous habitat began to change, plants grew. Aspen and willows began once more to flourish. Berries sprouted in the new underbrush. And bugs.
The new environment became a happy place for birds again, lots of them (including bald eagles). With more delectable young vegetation, beavers returned. And as they built their dams, otters and muskrats and reptiles found new homes.
Wolves are natural enemies of the coyote, and as the coyote population diminished, their natural prey…rabbits and mice, returned. The new crop of vermin attracted red foxes, weasels, badgers, and hawks. Because the better balance between predator and prey caused vegetation to flourish and therefore erosion to subside, river banks stabilized, channels narrowed, more pools formed, ducks returned, rivers stayed in their banks.
In a relatively short time a single contagious act transformed the world’s first national park again into a thing of beauty. If you visit there today you can’t help but notice.
I heard it said once, and I believe it’s true, that you never do just one thing. The right thing done in the right way nearly always causes ripples. More than once we’ve seen the leadership of a struggling congregation decide they would ask God to re-shape their agenda and help them become a prayer-force for the Kingdom. New life begins to appear. Those patches of Laodicean brown turn to luscious green. Life-giving water flows again. The beauty is restored.
What one thing has God laid on your heart? What one thing do you sense would honor Him and multiply the influence of your church in your city? What one decision would radicalize your church’s presence to the folks you serve? I believe if you ask He’ll let you know.
By Don Jacobsen