I tend to think in extremes; first and last, highest and lowest, longest and shortest, all or none. I believe most people do this to some extent. For example, when I’m at work and working on a task, I am asked how long it will take. I always say something like, “that should only take an hour” which is the absolute minimum amount of time I would need to finish it, when it actually ends up taking four hours. Or when given a big problem to solve, for example, social poverty; what might be our first solution? Let’s go and spend every chance we can with people who have been socially neglected. Sounds good, right? Sure, except when we see there are so many people in need that we become overwhelmed. Generally, we think, if we can’t fully devote time, effort, strength into it, it’s not worth doing or it’s not going to be enough to solve the problem. Then, nothing gets done. So, we want to do something, but if we try to solve it thinking in extremes, we will eventually burn out.
I went to school to learn engineering. While there, I learned about how fluids flow. In my Fluid Dynamics class, I was taught that fluids flow in two categories: laminar and turbulent. Laminar fluids flow smoothly, uniformly, in one direction with very little friction. Because of this parallel flow with all particles moving in the same direction and small amount of friction, the sum of the energy output is very close to the sum of the energy input. This results in a very powerful and efficient flow. In contrast, turbulent fluids flow irregularly, chaotically, and unparallel to the overall direction of the flow. At any one point in the fluid, the speed is constantly changing in magnitude and direction. Turbulent flow is characterized by a large loss in energy due to friction. The sum of the energy output is much less than the sum of the energy input.
I tell you about fluid dynamics because I believe we can apply those fluid flow principles to our lives. We have a finite amount of energy we put into everything we do. Sometimes we will try to “do” too much to bring the kingdom of God here on Earth; other times, not enough. I believe there is a balance between the two where we are most effective at being disciples of Christ. There is a difference between trying to do so many good things and being very effective at what we do. Sometimes we are blinded by a need so big that we think we have to do everything we can to help solve it. Instead of spreading our efforts on something like this, which ends up being solely charity, what does it look like to focus our energy and try to provide some real justice? We must evaluate how we use our energy such that it shows we love God with our entire lives and we love our neighbor as ourselves.
If there are things that cause friction, slow us down, and make our lives turbulent, maybe we need to consider removing them from our flow path. These things that slow us down may be good, but they’re causing turbulence. What aspects of our lives are causing turbulence? I’m not saying that we should throw out everything that doesn’t seem effective at Kingdom work. I truly believe that having fun, not being productive and resting is part of living a balanced, laminar life. I’m saying, let’s take a look at our lives and find ways we can show the world how powerful God is; that He has a plan to heal this broken world with love.
This inspirational word was brought to you by Mike Huggins of Grace & Main Fellowship.