Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Creation in Tension

The second problem with our search for balance in our lives is that balance is not the testimony of God's creation. Nothing in the world that we live in exists in balance; it all exists in tension.

It is not balance that keeps our earth just the perfect distance from the sun; it is a force of gravity that keeps the earth in perfect tension with the sun. Without exactly this tension holding us in place, this earth that we call home would be either too hot or too cold to be inhabitable.

It is this same kind of tension that keeps the earth tilted at precisely the right angle so that the middle of the earth is not too hot and the poles are not too cold, but the whole planet is somewhere in the middle - a perfect 23.4something degrees. It's not balance that keeps the earth here; there's nothing in the universe that tilts at 156.5something degrees so that we can keep our tilt. It's the tension of the forces acting upon us that holds us in precisely this place.

The tension, not some "balance," between the earth and the moon not only controls the ebb and flow of the tides of the sea, but acts upon the seasons in such a way that we have them at all. The earth spins not because God flicked it with His finger and set it in motion (although He did). The earth spins because once in motion, it pulls against the forces that hold it in place. Always trying to get away from gravity, earth is constantly drawn back in. This is tension. And it makes us spin. (Think of your child running his feet even when you have hold of his shirt collar. He is in motion, but the tension between your strength and his holds him in place. If either of you were to give up, he would move in one direction or the other.)

We often talk about the seasons as though they are the perfect representation of balance. We have hot, and we have cold. And we have them, at least in Indiana, in approximately equal proportion. We have summer and we have winter, and this is true essentially everywhere. It's easy to construe these contrasts into an idea of balance - we have as much of one as we have of the other, and certainly, this must be balance. But when you look at the cycles that life is going through in these seasons, it is not about balance at all. 

Life doesn't worry about spending just as much time dead as it does alive. The seed doesn't relish the winter, but it accepts it.

It is the tension of the seasons that brings us the cycle of life and death. In the fall and winter, the seed falls and dies. There is no balance to this. Death has no balance in life. But it has tension with it. And it is this tension that bursts forth in the spring and the summer and blooms full-color before our very eyes. God didn't create the seasons because there is something necessary or even noble about us being too hot for part of the year and too cold for the other, or because He desired us to have wonderful light for awhile and then depressing darkness. The seasons aren't balanced in this way. Rather, they are in perfect tension in honor of life that depends on this very thing.

Or think about something so majestic as a tree. The tree draws nutrients and water from the soil through its roots to fuel the growth of its branches and leaves; it draws light through its leaves to nourish its trunk and roots. The tree stretches between what is beneath it and what is above it in perfect tension. This is not balance; these things are running right contrary to each other. It would almost seem contradictory if it wasn't so beautiful and amazing. 

How can anyone look at this world and think that "balance" is the original design? So-called balance is nowhere to be found. 

But tension is everywhere. It's everything. It's the testimony of all creation. In a way that we just cannot wrap our heads around, everything is held together by tension. What seems to be tearing things apart is actually holding them right in perfect place. 

Tension, not balance. And if you're not convinced yet, stay tuned. 

No comments:

Post a Comment