C.S. Lewis and the Butterfly Effect

C.S. Lewis

Why would C.S. Lewis take the time to correspond with a young American girl he did not know? Would his four letters, including the one he wrote to her just 11 days before his death, have any consequence?

In our culture we are taught to swing for the fences. Blast the game-winning home run high over the center field wall. Instant gratification and recognition. Great work if you can get it.

But a life lived in obedience to God is seldom like that. It’s much more like the butterfly effect—where one small change can make a big difference in the way things turn out. Consider the chain of events in the following story.

  1. In the 1960s, a somewhat under-appreciated (at the time) Cambridge don, deep thinker, and writer of children’s literature gets a fan letter from a 12-year-old American girl. Despite all he has going on, he takes the time to write back to her.
  2. The young girl begins to read some of his other work, including his Christian writings. She writes more letters, he writes back.
  3. When he dies, only a small number of friends attend his funeral.
  4. Through subsequent publishing he becomes one of the most influential Christian thinkers of the 20th century.
  5. Because he took the time to write to the little girl, his corpus has a profound effect on her faith and her ability and desire to defend her Christian worldview.
  6. The little girl grows up, marries a small town preacher, and has a profound effect on him.
  7. The small town preacher becomes one of the most influential Christian writers and thinkers of the 21st century.

For the whole story, read this article.

We really don’t take enough time to correspond with people. Taking the time to write someone can have significant and lasting consequences—much more so than hitting a dramatic home run.

HT: Marion Paine, David the Older

About John Paine

This blog is topical and devotional--we post whatever interests us, whenever. If you want to follow in an orderly fashion, please see our Kaqexeß page. View all posts by John Paine

2 responses to “C.S. Lewis and the Butterfly Effect

  • fred nice

    thanks john for this nice piece. i love the thought of butterfly effect.


  • John Paine


    I’ve been studying the sovereignty of God lately, and thinking a lot about the butterfly effect.

    In the early 1960s, my uncle from Kingston, Ontario was on vacation and walking down the street in Kingston, Jamaica. He walked into a bar and struck up a conversation with a stranger from Winchester, Virginia. Seemingly random event? Not for me. As a result, my family moved from Quebec to Virginia in 1963. My whole life changed. If not for my uncle walking into that bar, I would never have met my wife, and my sons would never have been born. My entire life was different as a result of that one small, random event.

    I’m not a fatalist, but I do believe God has a plan for each of us. Funny how that butterfly thing plays out.


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