Potential Energy

Originally published September 3, 2016

Potential Energy

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” 

1 Peter 5:6

Have you ever noticed that people do what they want to do? Their actions reflect their heart. You can tell where a person is headed, generally, by how they act. When a person accepts Jesus Christ as their Saviour it changes them, and when someone rejects Christ, you can usually tell it by how they live. Direction generally determines destination.

I speak to the teenagers in a local juvenile detention facility. It is difficult to judge the sincerity and the direction of their lives, because while they are there, without exception, their life has stopped. They are unable to DO anything, good or bad.

Now, you don’t have to do anything to be saved. A quadriplegic in a hospital bed with a breathing tube down their throat can be saved. The heart has to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. A person can even repent, without the ability to show “fruits meet for repentance.” (Matthew 3:8) To repent is simply to turn, or to change your mind about the direction you were going.

Movement meant

the mind was still

moldable.

I helped raise and train horses as a boy on my mother’s farm. We had everything from backyard nags, to wild mustangs, to top pedigree reining quarter horses. Contrary to what you may have seen on TV (believe it or not!) the hardest horse to break is not the ‘runaway steed’. No, the horse you had to be wary of was the heavy-footed, slow, unresponsive horse. They were ALWAYS harder to work with, because you never knew if they were taking the training- or whether they were just lazy and rebellious! Movement meant the mind was still moldable.

One of the first tractors I learned to drive had no power steering. The ‘power’ came from your elbows, and the ‘steering’ was very difficult- if you were sitting still. As long as you kept the machine rolling, it could be taken in any direction you wanted it to go. Whether animal or mechanical, it takes less energy to control when it is in motion.

We understand this as kinetic energy, the energy of motion. An object that has overcome inertia and is now under the influence of its own momentum is said to have ‘kinetic’ energy. Kinetic energy is perceivable, you can tell that there is action. It is predictable, it is likely to continue according to its course. It is also preventable; the natural degradation of processes and the dull inertia that drags every element to a standstill attack everything from a rubber raquetball to your Christian walk.

What can you do when you are bed-ridden? How can you spend your time when you’re grounded? Is there possibility in a jail cell? When you are stopped at a red light, or waiting in line, or held up at a train, can you be of use to God? Sometimes life can stop briefly, or for what seems like forever.

When life comes to a standstill, there is still worth in keeping your heart aimed in the right direction. The Bible encourages, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) 

It also says “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” (Proverb 16:9) There is a usefulness even when you feel stuck: it is the practical science of potential energy. 

 A person can have potential energy in his temperature.

Have you ever been busy doing good deeds and all the right stuff, but you just felt indifferent? That is called a ‘cold heart’. Conversely, have you ever felt passionately about a person or a mission, even though you were miles away from them? That is potential energy. You can take two old dead logs and lay them side by side on the ground; and there is no difference. But provide enough friction, or a catalyst of fuel, and one of those two may burst into useful, productive flame. Two disciples described it after listening to and learning from the resurrected Lord Jesus: “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32) Regardless of the lack of mobility in your life, you can still have a warmth in character by reading the Bible, and letting it move across your life.

A person can have potential energy in his position.

The Lord remind us of the potential in humility. “Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14) If you’re up, you go down; if you get down, you go up! A compression spring that is extended and relaxed has zero potential energy, but press, and squeeze, and shrink that spring, and it will leap up! A poor, lame man at the temple gate sat as low as ever a man could go, but when he met Peter and received the Lord Jesus, “he leaping up stood, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” (Acts 3:8) So even when you feel ‘pressed out of measure’, know that the result of humility is the touch of God!

A person can have potential energy in his relation to objects larger than himself.

God controls

all of nature,

but can He

move you?

Whether sunning, standing, or sitting perfectly still, you are under the influence of celestial bodies greater than yourself due to the law we call gravity. The gravity of earth keeps your feet on the ground, the gravity of the moon controls the rise and fall of ocean tides, and the gravity of the sun holds the solar system in orbit and measures time and seasons. The greatest influence in all the heavens is the One who upholds “all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). No matter what our position in this life: “He is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:17) God controls  all of nature, but can He order and direct you? Once you understand your position in the universe, you realize you are moving- even at a complete stop-on the rotating surface of earth at over 1,000 miles per hour!

Do you fully understand your position, your relationship, in Jesus Christ? Have you fully harnessed the hidden strength of your potential through faith in the Omnipotent? I don’t like to be stopped at a red light, let alone be restrained from what I consider ‘action’. But I realize that the greatest productivity lies not in what I CAN do, but what HE MAY do through me.

“Be STILL and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Psalm 46:10

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