I find myself reading about Newton’s laws of motion this morning. According to Newton, when a force that compels me in one direction meets another force, there is always an equal and opposite reaction.
Why talk about physics on this rainy Friday when I could be curled up in my favorite hoodie with a cup of tea watching Netflix? Here’s why… On Monday something became real to me. I found myself ending the day in my counselor’s office. Me—an “object persisting in a state of forward motion”—unexpectedly came up against another force as I sat in that black leather chair.
I hadn’t realized the force of all that I was carrying. All that stuff I was afraid to put words to. All that stuff I had avoided acknowledging for so long. Yet, on that Monday afternoon, all of it broke through the emotional wall in my soul and flooded into the room, into the light.
I was stunned by the weight of it. My chest felt heavy, my lungs burned as I inhaled. I was suddenly aware that I had been running and functioning, moving in one constant forward motion with a tremendous burden I was too afraid to release.
So back to the beginning...when the force that compels me in one direction meets another force, there is always an equal and opposite reaction. Wikipedia gives a great example of this: walking. When I push against the floor, the floor also pushes against my foot in an equal way, allowing me to be able to walk and not fall through the floor.
When it comes to interacting with people, I can see this law at play. We tend to go through life, each compelled by forward forces, but we bump up against one another, don’t we? We meet up against one another and reactions happen.
Maybe your force of anger meets up against my force of fear, and I react by fleeing, bottling up my emotions, and continuing in whatever direction your force just pushed me.
Maybe my force of need meets up against your force of fear, and you react by buckling powerlessly, afraid of not measuring up. Maybe that force becomes a burden you carry as you passively turn in the direction my force pushes you.
Maybe your force of fear meets up against my force of fear and we’re both too insecure to speak. Maybe neither of us tap into our true self and God-given voice but instead fall into the directions we just pushed each other.
The forces of motivation behind what we do are too many to count…what drives you?
It could be chasing success, seeking approval, dodging fear. The sub-categories of fear alone are endless: fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of betrayal, fear of what other people think, etc. Although these forces compel us forward to make a life that’s worth something, they happen to be the same forces that can push us and others backwards.
As my heart bled open into the room on Monday, I had a thought for the first time. What would happen if the force that compels us, that thing that impresses the direction of our lives, was a CONSTANT? Something that was unchanging when pushed up against. What if there was a stronger force—one that consistently guides us forward, despite the forces we come up against in our every day lives? What would happen in the law of motion if the force that compels me was not a natural force?
The good news is I have a supernatural Savior in Jesus. He wants to be the compelling, forward-moving force in my life and in yours. He intersects and changes the direction of my thinking. He says, “Walk forward this way. Let the reality of who I am (the Gospel) and the Truth of my Word be the force that compels the motion of all that you do.”
What happens when other people’s forces of need, fear, anger, and dependence bump up against my life? Now that Jesus is my force, I don’t have to react to their forces. Instead, I get to respond with His stronger, supernatural, and equipping force from within me that shows grace and continues moving me forward. The cool thing is that it welcomes the other people to move forward too (more so than my force of fear would have ever done for them).
Maybe the Gospel can even be seen in Newton’s second law. "The change of momentum of a body is proportional to the impulse impressed on the body and happens along the straight line on which that impulse is impressed." I was going about my way, compelled by fears of all kinds (a slave to the force of sin), until another force—a force of grace/life/freedom (the Cross of Christ)—met me and entirely changed me.
While the breadth and depth of the Gospel cannot be contained in a physics lesson, or in the laws of motion, it can be evidenced; it can be seen. The Gospel was written by a Holy God who receives the most glory when His people find their satisfaction in a personal relationship with Him. In His presence there is complete freedom.
Freedom means that I don’t have to continue being compelled and impressed by natural forces—by slavery to fear or anger or codependence, by my circumstances, or by yours. Freedom means that I don’t have to be the source that fuels the force or direction of my life. Freedom means that Jesus has forever changed me—and with Him as the compelling force, I don’t have to live reactionary. Freedom in me means that when our lives intersect, the impression of Jesus in me meets you and whatever you’re going through. It changes the atmosphere. Instead of me reacting and forcing you or you forcing me, the Gospel intersects and brings Life.
Father, be the force that compels the motion in our lives that we might not move forward bottling up burdens that were never meant for us to carry alone but to surrender to You. Jesus, be the stronger force that sends us out into freedom, that when we intersect the lives of others we do so marked with Your compassion, grace, and wisdom. Overflow in us that we might overflow into others the life and freedom of the Gospel.