Thursday, May 5, 2022
Ken Davis, author and speaker, tells the story of an experiment he led in one of his college classes. The title of his talk was, “The Law of the Pendulum.” He spent 20 minutes carefully teaching the physical principle that governs a swinging pendulum. The law of the pendulum states that 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.
To demonstrate, he attached a 3-foot string to a child’s toy top and secured it to the top of the blackboard with a thumbtack. He pulled the top to one side and made a mark on the blackboard where he let it go. Each time it swung back he made a new mark. It took less than a minute for the top to complete its swinging and come to rest. When he finished the demonstration, the markings on the blackboard proved his thesis. He then asked how many people in the room BELIEVED the law of the pendulum was true. All his classmates raised their hands, and so did the professor. Ken then pointed the steel ceiling beams in the middle of the room where a large, crude pendulum weighing 250 pounds hung from 500-pound parachute cord.
Ken invited the instructor to climb up on a table and sit in a chair with the back of his head against a cement wall. Using a hoist and crank, he brought the 250 pounds of metal up to the professor’s nose. Holding the huge pendulum just a fraction of an inch from his face, he once again explained the law of the pendulum the class 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, Ken looked the professor 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.”
The pendulum was released. It made a swishing sound as it arced across the room. At the far end of its swing, it paused momentarily and started back. You’ve never seen a man move so fast in your life. The professor literally dived from the table. Deftly stepping around the still-swinging pendulum, Ken asked the class, “Does he really believe in the law of the pendulum?” The students unanimously answered, “NO!”
Faith is only valid if it’s acted upon. In Paul’s teaching about the armor of God, he states that as a covering for all the other pieces of armor, we must take up the shield of faith. Did you notice the words take up? It is not sufficient for us to say that we believe in a shield that can protect us from the attacks of the enemy – we must personally take up that shield or it will do us no good. It is vitally important in taking up the shield of faith that we know what our faith has been placed in. Our faith is not in our protection or deliverance. Our faith is not in our newfound spiritual ability to defend ourselves. Our faith is not in the activity of God. None of those things can be the direct object of our faith. If our faith is in any of them, our lives will be tossed to and fro like a boat left untied during a hurricane. We will be influenced by sight rather than by trust. We will be scared by every swinging pendulum of life.
The only direct object of our faith that will protect us in any circumstance of life is God. Not His actions. Not His promises. Just God. Our faith is to be in His existence, His nature, and His character. Once we have that solidified, no attack of the enemy can harm us. We will be able to extinguish every flaming arrow shot at us. Oswald Chambers said it this way – “Faith for my deliverance is not faith in God. Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love.”
Faith in God is the basis for all other aspects of faith. Faith in Jesus Christ as Savior is only possible if we first have faith that there is a God of perfect love and justice who provided the way for salvation. Faith in the promises of God is only possible if we first have faith that there is a God who can fulfill those promises. It is faith in God that becomes our shield against all else.
But faith is only valid if it is put into action. It is only real faith if you stay in the chair as the pendulum approaches. It is only real faith if you can continue to trust the love of the Father when all of life seems to be collapsing around you. Real faith continues to trust even when all seems hopeless. So whatever your current circumstances, remember this – “…through faith you are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:5-9)