Overcoming Inertia

May 27, 2010

I am no engineer, physicist, or mechanic.  Let me make that clear and plain.

Newton’s first law of motion is summarized to say that an object at rest will stay at rest until acted upon by an outside force.  An object in motion will stay in motion until acted upon by an outside force.

Last week I offered what might seem a foolish challenge to the proverbial “Murphy” and his dubious law (“Anything that can go wrong will”).  I invited him to take his best shot.  Indeed he has.  I’ll not wade into the mire of the details, but I feel like I am emerging on the other side of the bog not too much the worse for the wear.

The problem is that my daily patterns – the object in motion, if you will – were sorely interrupted by the outside force of circumstance.  I am a follower of Jesus Christ.  A “disciple” is one who follows after and strives to imitate the one he follows.  The word “disciple” is, of course, the basis of the word “discipline.”  Discipline is something we generally tend to connect with the process of correcting the behavior of our children or pets.

But discipline is also the process of training by which one comes to be more and more like the standard to which they aspire.  As a follower of Jesus, I am called to daily embrace the disciplines necessary to conform my life more and more to His example.  The obvious disciplines of a follower of Jesus would be reading His writings, studying His life, carefully considering the teachings of those who walked closest to Him, and talking with Him one on one as much as is possible (prayer).

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”  -Jesus, Luke 9:23

In the chaos of the last couple of weeks, my consistency in these disciplines has suffered significantly.  I haven’t neglected them completely, but I have been far less consistent.  But this is true in most areas of my life.  One of the biggest disciplines that I have (finally and only by the grace of God) developed over the last year or so is that of consistent daily exercise.  But I had not been to the gym in over a week until yesterday.

I noticed a strange thing.  I was going back to a place that I had routinely visited five or six times per week for over a year now.  But it was so hard to go.  It wasn’t the exercise that was hard.  Once I got in the door I hit the treadmill and had a great, solid workout.  It was much easier than I expected.  But making myself get dressed and drive to the gym and walk in the door was crazy difficult.

[For the record, while I had not been to the gym, I had spent the better part of two days working on my truck, numerous hours through that time reworking flower beds and other yard work, and a few glorious hours on the golf course.]

But why is it that the positive disciplines of life are so hard to pick back up one we drop them?  Could it be that Newton’s first law of motion has a spiritual/emotional layer of truth as well as the physical?

Time and time again people have expressed to me how hard it is to get back into the habit of going to church after being out for a while.  I know it seems so much harder when I’ve missed my Bible reading for even a day or two to pick it up again.

It seems to me that the first step is the most difficult one.  The object at rest (ME) will stay at rest (out of the gym) unless acted upon by an outside force (my conscience and the pressing of the Holy Spirit upon my heart).   I needed that force.  I am rolling again and soon hope to be on the other side of that equation – the object in motion that will stay in motion until acted upon by an outside force (more of the chaos and distraction of life).

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  -Philippians 2:13

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