“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Newton’s Third Law of Motion
I only took physics because of a pretty redhead. You should know up front in this post that I wasn’t really paying attention in that class. If on the off-chance you read something physics related in the post below and it is wrong let’s follow standard internet protocol where you leave me a nasty comment, I call you a troll, and we all move on.
End credibility-destroying rant.
As mind-numbing as the mathematical aspect of physics is there is actually value in understanding the subject. Physics tells us that there are forces in the world. For instance, forces within your car’s engine allow you to go and other forces in your brakes allow you to bring the car to a complete stop at a stop sign. Or in my case a “California stop.”
As humanity has learned to harness, use, and overcome those forces we have taken great strides forward. I mean, have you ever stopped to consider the wonder of a metal can defying gravity to carry you to a palm-studded beach? Physics makes that possible.
So it makes sense that if we understand a few basic rules of physics we can really do some good.
Newton’s Third Law of Motion
Above is Newton’s Third Law of Motion which, as it turns out, I completely misunderstood until today. For the longest time, I assumed that “equal and opposite reaction” meant something more like cause and effect. That is, one action happened and then something else happened because of it. This is not what Newton meant.
The Third Law of Motion actually means this: one action happens and at the same time another action counteracts it.
It’s probably easier if I just quote someone here so check out this explanation I found:
“The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object. The direction of the force on the first object is opposite to the direction of the force on the second object. Forces always come in pairs – equal and opposite action-reaction force pairs.”
That last part should catch your attention. Forces come in pairs. Consider for a moment how this law about physical forces also applies to the movements of your heart. Physics teaches something about following a God who asks us to believe and not doubt.
What if faith and fear are equal and opposite forces?
I have these experiences from time to time – maybe you do too – of believing that God called me to something special so I get involved, hit publish, or reach out to someone. Within minutes fear washes through my being and regret lays its icy grip on my heart. No matter how good or profitable the experience was I fear it was a failure. Or, more specifically, that I was a failure. Does this happen to you, too?
That feeling is fear’s equal and opposite push against your step of faith and you may as well get used to it because laws of physics almost never go away. You can expect fear to stalk you every step of faith you take. Fear is mentioned over 400 times in the Bible because God knows that the biggest impediment to our faith is fear.
By now you might be wondering if this strange application of Newton’s Third Law applies in the other direction. What about those times when you let fear take the lead? Is there an equal and opposite reaction by faith? This one is harder to answer but I believe faith pushes back, too.
I have this theory that deep down all of us are seeking our true selves in Christ. Some people’s true selves are buried under pain and brokenness so they flail about trying to find it. Others bury it under discipline. Still others are too lazy to ever look at all. But, eventually, a moment comes when you have to risk and if you choose fear a twinge of remorse hits in the back of your spirit. I call that twinge faith. It knows who God made you to be and pushes back against fearful decisions. Faith is subtler than fear but pushes back anyway.
So, fear is not going away.
Faith isn’t either.
I’ll leave you with this question: In the thing that matters to you most, are you acting in faith or fear? Are you going to let fear stop you even if you step out in faith? Or will fear get the upper hand? The choice is yours.