Isaac Newton’s first law of motion says: An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. If you’ve ever skidded off the road or taken a spin on some slippery pavement, you’ve witnessed this law firsthand. Usually these situations happen when we’re heading down the road and our wheels lock up and lose traction. The tires stop spinning but, depending on the speed and road conditions, the car keeps on going. Worst-case scenario, the car keeps moving in whatever direction it was already heading before the wheels stopped moving. If you’re headed into a curve, you’re going straight ahead to the scene of an accident.
Building on Newton’s Law, if an object that’s sitting still isn’t pushed or pulled, it won’t move. And if we take away friction, the resistance of the road against the tires, something happens: You can’t go anywhere. Think of the last time you tried to get going on a sheet of ice or wet grass. At the same time, if an object is moving, it will take some kind of force to change its direction or bring it to a stop. In other words, without any outside force acting upon it, an object’s motion will tend to remain the same.
These forces in play are directly related to the gas and the brakes we’ve been talking about all week. Each, in its proper time, helps guide a vehicle to a destination. They both work together to manage our speed and direction. We get moving, our foot on the throttle, pushing the gas pedal to move the car or increase speed. And then we brake, slow down, reduce our speed.
How does all this apply to our lives? Sometimes we go through seasons where we feel way too busy, in over our heads, our metaphorical wheels spinning—so much so that it makes us want to throw our hands up and quit everything. That’s not what we’re talking about when we say to hit the brakes. In many modern vehicles, braking is made safer by the anti-lock brake system that causes our brake pedal to push back when the wheels slip, to keep them from locking up. In the same way, spiritually speaking, just as we must use the throttle wisely, we need to slow down wisely in order to avoid the dreaded lock-up that leads to a crash.
As God leads, we move forward. As He brings clarity, we determine our direction. And after receiving the nudge to slow down, we tap the brakes attentively so we can avoid “locking up” in life. We let those moments come and embrace them as they do, as part of God’s way of helping us navigate this life for His glory and our ultimate good.
Faster doesn’t mean better. And slower doesn’t mean we’re losing. When God is guiding, movement and rest will happen time and again. Are you in a season where God’s wisdom would lean more toward a foot on the gas pedal or lifting off of it and tapping the brakes? Share more with a friend this week about what God seems to be up to.