Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Inertia of the Soul

So the boys and I are studying science and inevitably my youngest asks me to explain inertia--like that's just something that I should know without needing to google it. If there's one thing I've learned teaching the boys it's that I'll never have all the answers to their questions, but google will. And naturally, I google it because any explanation I give will be sketchy at best. Inertia is the resistance of any object to a change in its state of motion. As I sat there--flanked by two dusty-haired boys --discussing with them how if something is still, it wants to stay that way. Take a rock for example--it doesn't really want to move. It's kind of lazy. In the same way though, when that rock gets pushed down a hill, it doesn't want to stop either. Motivation for change is apparently rather hard to come by in the world of inanimate objects. Then again, perhaps inertia is not exclusive. Perhaps mankind too suffers from a form of inertia--inertia of the soul. Look how long it took humans to recognize slavery as an abuse of our fellow man? I'm not talking slaves that came from Africa here to the United States. We didn't write that book--slavery was around since the earliest of civilizations. There were Spartan slaves and Chinese slaves, there were slaves in Rome and frankly, there are still slaves to this day. Thousands of years and we can't seem to quit moving in that direction. Inertia. Consider the heart of Pharaoh--a man whom Egyptians considered a god. Surely he could change his mind and free the Israelite people. Yet he was steadily moving towards massive pyramids and he needed those Israelites to make bricks. It didn't matter what plague hammered his country, he was moving in the direction of bricks. That my friends, is inertia personified. So I am holding this concept of inertia in my heart, mulling over it, and I can't help but consider how I may be affected by it. I'm a task oriented person, so there's that--don't interrupt me when I'm in the middle of washing the dishes or I may need to take a pill. But I'm talking deeper than epidermal personality type stuff. I'm talking about the organs of my soul--the core of who I am. Do I resist the prodding of the Holy Spirit without even realizing that I'm doing it? Do I insist on mobility when He's whispering Stop, Sarah? What areas are there in my life where I've become completely still and yet God wishes me to move? What areas are there in my life where determined not to stop, I've run for so long while God longs for me to be still? My eldest son has this thing with being teachable. Though tender and generally very amiable and compliant, when it comes to doing something differently from how he has already started to do it, be ready. You'll encounter resistance. Take lay-ups for example. I saw he was struggling with making them consistently. So, like any other mother would do, I got a DVD on the fundamentals of layups and watched the entire thing. Then, I went outside and tried my hand at the new set of skills. And presto! Momma's making lay-ups in her thirties! Then I walked Nate through the process, step by step. He understood, but felt like he was doing just fine the other way. After all, his real problem wasn't his fundamentals, it was that he was doing them on a gravel driveway. Well, that's the way he saw it anyway. He took one or two shots and then just went right back to what he was doing before. I'll spare you the two weeks of teaching details, but eventually with lots more help from dad and some real encouragement, he figured out he wasn't listening to us. And he realized that as soon as he actually stopped and listened to what we were saying and then changed his state of motion, he could hit those shots. Now he's still got some inertia going on, but it's in the right direction and he's making lay-ups in the process. I don't think inertia itself is the problem, I think the problem we encounter is when we find ourselves going one way and God's heart for our lives is another. Consider Jonah--he headed the opposite direction from Nineveh because he did not want to be where God sent him. Sometimes it's as simple as sharing the love of Christ with our neighbor by bringing them some muffins, but our favorite cooking show is on and who wants to leave during Rachel Ray? Sometimes it's an addiction we can't even admit out in the open and we've stayed in the direction of that addiction for so long. We are the wrong way. And how that must break the heart of our Father. Not because we are not doing what we were created to do, but because we are not experiencing the joy of being who He created us to be. I find it encouraging to consider the definition of inertia. I think we naturally resist change. The devil we know is better than the one we don't. We'd rather keep eating ice cream by the bucketfuls and get fat than we would change that behavior and get onto the treadmill. The treadmill is hard, it's difficult and it's foreign to our muscle memory. We'd rather keep spending out of control than stop spending and start dealing with our debt. We tell ourselves we'll make changes next week, next month, next year. Those are the natural tendencies or the proclivities of a man's heart. We tend toward negative inertia. So, we're not alone. Adam and Eve kind of had the same thing going on. It's an ancient dilemma. Newton's first law of motion says that every object will continue in that state of motion unless acted on by an outside force. I like that. I really like that. In fact, I think this is where it really gets good. This is what I just absolutely love about God. He gets that we are very, very human and He does not leave us in that state of motion. He makes a way. He always has. Pharaoh changed his mind about the Israelites when God softened his heart. If you are like me and can readily identify some areas where you have become inert, then perhaps you'll join me in asking God to change the course of your life. Invite Him to soften the determination of your heart and provide the gentle force necessary to alter its course. We bring Him glory when we are yielding to His directions. We bring Him glory when we are surrendered to His course for our lives. Alternatively I am considering the ramifications of one right step. Then another. And another. Before long we have momentum built up--the whole thirty days to develop a new habit could in fact be true when you factor in the idea of inertia. What would the my world be like if I took just one or two areas and said I'm going to take one small step for thirty days in a row? Because once that momentum starts, I'm going to resist a reversal of my new motion. Only days away from a New Year, isn't it a perfect time to open our hands and release the reins? Isn't today, when we are celebrating the season of His birth, a great time to take hold of the peace He sent Jesus to bring into our lives? If we are holding tightly to our present state of motion we are not free to hold tightly to joy, to peace, to hope--the things that Christ came to give. I don't write to discourage. If you live the rest of your life in a muddy rut your Heavenly Father will love you no less. What we do doesn't make God love us more, but when we yield to His ways, the quality of our life drastically improves. Pray with me: Lord, thank you for the spiritual truths that lie in nature, in science. Thank you for the joy and peace you came to give. Please give me eyes to see where I am resisting a change and give me a heart that is soft in your hands. Replace my heart of stone, Father, with your heart. Overcome me that I might bring you glory and that I may fully enjoy the life you have given me. Amen. Read with me: Psalm 95 Luke 22:42 Colossians 1:9-14