In college I was asked to prepare a lesson to teach my speech class. We were to be graded on our creativity and ability to drive home a point in a memorable way. The title of my talk was, "The Law of the Pendulum." I spent 20 minutes carefully teaching the physical principle that governs a swinging pendulum. The law of the pendulum is: A pendulum can never return to a point higher than the point from which it was released. Because of friction and gravity, when the pendulum returns, it will fall short of its original release point. Each time it swings it makes less and less of an arc, until finally it is at rest. This point of rest is called the state of equilibrium, where all forces acting on the pendulum are equal.
I attached a 3-foot string to a child's toy top and secured it to the top of the blackboard with a thumbtack. I pulled the top to one side and made a mark on the blackboard where I let it go. Each time it swung back I made a new mark. It took less than a minute for the top to complete its swinging and come to rest. When I finished the demonstration, the markings on the blackboard proved my thesis.
I then asked how many people in the room BELIEVED the law of the pendulum was true. All of my classmates raised their hands, so did the teacher. He started to walk to the front of the room thinking the class was over. In reality it had just begun. Hanging from the steel ceiling beams in the middle of the room was a large, crude but functional pendulum (250 pounds of metal weights tied to four strands of 500-pound test parachute cord). I invited the instructor to climb up on a table and sit in a chair with the back of his head against a cement wall. Then I brought the 250 pounds of metal up to his nose. Holding the huge pendulum just a fraction of an inch from his face, I once again explained the law of the pendulum he had applauded only moments before, "If the law of the pendulum is true, then when I release this mass of metal, it will swing across the room and return short of the release point. Your nose will be in no danger."
After that final restatement of this law, I looked him in the eye and asked, "Sir, do you believe this law is true?" There was a long pause. Huge beads of sweat formed on his upper lip and then weakly he nodded and whispered, "Yes." I released the pendulum. It made a swishing sound as it arced across the room. At the far end of its swing, it paused momentarily and started back. I never saw a man move so fast in my life. He literally dived from the table.
[Ken Davis is sought-after speakers and author who has appeared on television and stages around the world. His daily radio program, LIGHTEN UP!, is broadcast on over 1,800 stations worldwide.]
Deftly stepping around the still-swinging pendulum, I asked the class, "Does he believe in the law of the pendulum?" The students unanimously answered, "NO!"
Sometimes the trials and tribulations of this life will come at you like a swinging pendulum. As the Law of the Pendulum tested the "faith" of that professor, so life will test your faith in Christ. Do you you really believe in His great love for you and His faithfulness to see you through life's greatest challenges?
"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below--indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39, NLT).
"We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NLT).
Confronted with the sin of dishonesty, Huck Finn began to second guess whether it was right for him to have lied to protect his friend, the runaway slave named Jim. He began then to think about all his misadventures and reckoned that he should perhaps come "clean" and reform his "evil" ways. He knelt down to pray and ask God's help to reform. But his mind kept going back to Jim and what coming "clean" would mean for him. He just couldn't find the words to pray:
It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I couldn’t try to quit being the kind of a boy I was and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn’t come. Why wouldn’t they? It warn’t no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from ME, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn’t come. It was because my heart warn’t right; it was because I warn’t square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting ON to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth SAY I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write to that slave's owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it. You can’t pray a lie—I found that out.
Huck's real struggle wasn't between good and evil, but over asking God to forgive him for something for which he wasn't really sorry--protecting Jim from capture.
Alone before God, it all comes down to the heart. Alone before God, lies lose their leverage. Alone before God, you cannot pray a lie.
"Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart" (Psalm 51:6, ESV).
"The Resolved Conference" says Church Plant Media, "was calling a new generation to live with the same resolve that Jonathan Edwards had, when he was just 19 years old:
This young man, who would eventually be acknowledged as America's most important theologian, became dutifully focused on his life's purpose before his 20th birthday, and thus penned 70 commitment statements.
These commitment statements Edwards called his "resolutions," and he purposed to review them all on a regular basis. Each statement began with the declaration, "Resolved ..."
Number 25 on that list of his life resolutions read, "To examine carefully and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and so direct all my forces against it."
*For a complete list of his resolutions, click the link to source above.
The love of God, as manifest through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, is a comprehensive love that leaves no room for doubt. Regardless of your age, whether you're 19 or 90, this one truth--God loves you!--is the truth upon which all others are pinned.
Though the "Resolved Conference" last convened in 2012, God is still calling His children to "live with the same resolve that Jonathan Edwards had, when he was just 19 years old."
Should you ever find yourself doubting God's great love for you, find that "one thing" which is in that moment causing you doubt, and RESOLVE to "direct all your forces against it."
"Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, 'I believe; help my unbelief!' " (Mark 9:24).