Last week was a well-timed kickoff of my online virtual Zoom study for Discovering Jesus…
I have heard references to the Second Law of Thermodynamics throughout my adult years. It was commonly defined to me as “everything moves toward a state of decay.” Two things happened today that made me curious enough to look it up. It turns out the discussion of this law of nature is pretty complex but there were two statements I found (at http://www.allaboutscience.org/second-law-of-thermodynamics.htm) that intrigued me. “The quality of matter/energy deteriorates gradually over time. How so? Usable energy is inevitably used for productivity, growth and repair.” “As usable energy is irretrievably lost, disorganization, randomness and chaos increase.”
The implications for our lives are (1) the quality of our lives (physical fitness, attitudes, mental sharpness, relational unity, etc.) tends to deteriorate over time unless we add more energy and keep it “in shape.” (2) Without concerted effort, the parts of life we value the most will become disorganized, random and chaotic.
What are the two things that happened that raised my interest in this subject, you ask? The first was yard work. I spent quite a few hours beating back the effects of nature. It was remarkable how much of my yard is not right without effort on my part. I had weeds growing where I wanted plants. I had to trim a number of trees and rosebushes which looked like they were having a bad hair day. One small oak tree in particular had branches randomly sprouting in all directions. It was like it couldn’t make up its mind so it just sent shoots out to explore. Just to bring things back to normal takes time and effort on my part every week.
The second thing is I read about King Josiah in 2 Kings 22-23. He took over the kingship of the land of Judah after a string of other leaders who allowed the state of the nation to deteriorate to the point that God was fed up and making preparations to discipline the inhabitants of Judah and send them in to exile. Josiah did three things that caused God to put off his actions and delay the onset of decay. As I explored these three steps of Josiah, I realized they are the three things I need to do regularly to keep my life moving forward away from “disorganization, randomness and chaos.”
First he repented. “When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.” (1 Kings 22:11) This was a sign of repentance in the Old Testament. When you were confronted with a truth that exposed some deficiency or defiant behavior the evidence that you were remorseful over it was the rending of the clothes you were currently wearing. When Josiah came to realize the shattered state of the people, his heart broke and he determined that things must be done differently. As I am confronted with my own tendency to let my attitude, desires and decisions deteriorate into self-serving pursuits, I was reminded that consistent repentance keeps me tuned into what God can do in my life.
The second thing this young King did was to remove the unhealthy practices. Most of the account describes how he purged the land of idols, false places of worship and counterfeit religious practices. One example is found in 2 Kings 23:4, “The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the LORD all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel.” He understood that you cannot maintain repentance if you keep the temptations that drew you off course in sight. It didn’t take me long to realize that I must be willing to remove from my life the things that distract me if I want to maintain a high quality life.
The third thing he did was recommit himself to pursuit of his God. “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.” (2 Kings 23:25) Day after day, decision after decision, Josiah renewed his resolve to seek after God and live in His ways. It would be nice if I could decide once to be focused on being a godly man and have that be enough. The reality is I have to decide today that I want to be godly today and I will have the same choice tomorrow. The battle with the second law goes on!