They say that it’s impossible for bumble bees to fly.
The theory goes that their weight and size are too great for their tiny wings to support, so according to the laws of aerodynamics they shouldn’t be able to get off the ground.
The only problem is, no one has told the bumble bees that.
They seem to have no difficulty in buzzing about in the air from flower to flower, collecting pollen and nectar to bring back to the hive.
So how do they do it, when physics would seem to suggest that they can’t?
For a long time, this was a mystery to us. Eventually we discovered that bumble bees actually don’t defy the laws of aviation: they simply fly in a different way than a plane or bird does.
We learned that the propeller-like way they beat their wings creates an invisible force above them, like a mini-tornado or -hurricane. This vortex actually sucks them upward, giving them lift in spite of their weight.
There was more going on than met the eye, which allowed the “impossible” to happen.
Likewise, when we believe in God, there is more going on in our lives than we’re aware of.
When God is working in your life, sometimes He will cause the impossible to happen, even when you can’t see how it could.
This is a busy (and nutty) time of year for squirrels.
The little critters are hard at work storing up nuts and seeds for the hard winter ahead.
Depending on the species, they may either store their nuts in one spot (a stash), or hide them by burying them in multiple locations (known as “scatter-hoarding”). They’ve even been known to shamelessly steal nuts from the stashes of other squirrels.
The jury is out on whether squirrels actually remember where they’ve hidden all those nuts. Some studies suggest they can recall the location of thousands of buried nuts. Other research implies that squirrels fail to recover a good number of their treasures, which allows the nuts and acorns to grow into trees.
One thing is for certain: these little guys are single-minded about gathering up nuts before winter, often using unconventional places to store them.
Just ask Bill Fischer of Fargo, North Dakota. For the past eight years, a red squirrel has been using Bill’s pickup truck to store walnuts. Each year, the poor man has to remove thousands of walnuts from every crevice of his truck, including the engine compartment and bumpers.
If you’re a gardener, you probably have a stash of seeds tucked away.
I certainly do. I have a special bin in a cupboard where I store all my seed packets:
Envelopes containing seeds I’ve harvested over the years from plants in my garden. Seeds that friends have collected from their own gardens and then passed on to me, along with handwritten notes about the plants.
Packets of seeds I’ve bought the Botanic Garden’s seed fairs that look intriguing: seeds of rare plants, unusual colours of better known plants, or hard-to-find heirloom varieties of vegetables or flowers.
I have a veritable treasure trove of seeds in my cupboard!
There’s only one problem:
Those seeds are doing me absolutely no good sitting in a bin on a shelf.
I may take the packets out from time to time and look rapturously at the photos on the front. I might imagine how nice it would be to grow such gorgeous flowers or unusual veggies.
But until I put those seeds in the ground, all they are is wishful thinking and pretty pictures.
If I don’t take a step of faith and plant my seeds, I’ll never get a harvest.
Similarly, we sometimes leave our dreams and desires on a shelf, so to speak.
Baked Alaska is one of those desserts that seems like it will end in disaster.
This dessert involves covering a core of ice cream and cake with meringue and baking it at 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit. Really.
Who puts ice cream in a hot oven anyway?
Surely it will result in a melted mess, and you’ll be spending the next hour resentfully scrubbing out your oven.
But Baked Alaska will surprise and amaze you.
When you take this dessert out of the oven after a few minutes, you find that the meringue has cooked and slightly browned, but the ice cream underneath it is still cold and has retained its firm shape. The ice cream inside the “igloo” has remained untouched by the intense heat.
It seems miraculous, because you’d think that ice cream would melt when it came anywhere near temperatures that high. It’s not actually a miracle, however, but rather a clever application of physics. The dessert was invented in the 1800s by American physicist Benjamin Thompson, who was investigating the insulating properties of whipped egg whites.
If you want a genuine example of miraculous protection from a hot oven, you need to go the book of Daniel in the Old Testament.
If you were paying attention during physics class in high school, you’ll know that there are certain laws that the natural world abides by.
The Law of Gravity, for instance. Legend has it that this principle was discovered by a young Isaac Newton when he was hit on the head by an apple which fell from the tree he was sitting under.
Or the Law of Inertia, which states that an object at rest or in motion will continue in that state unless acted upon by an external force. So when I’m sitting in my easy chair and don’t want to get up to do any housework, I’m not being lazy. I’m simply obeying the law of inertia.
I recently heard a wag rephrase Newton’s Third Law of Motion (“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”). He dubbed it the Law of Emotion: for every male action there is a female overreaction!
Then there’s the Law of Conservation of Energy, which says that energy can’t be created or destroyed, but can be altered from one form to another. For instance, our bodies transform the chemical energy in food into kinetic energy to help us move around.
I think sin has a principle attached to it which is similar to the Law of Conservation of Energy.
Sin can’t just disappear. It has to be dealt with in some way.
But it can be transformed.
As author Dorothy Sayers said, “There is only one real law—the law of the universe. It may be fulfilled either by way of judgement or by the way of grace, but it must be fulfilled one way or the other.”
Multi-tasking has been described as the art of messing up several things at once.
Like trying to apply makeup and drive on the freeway at the same time. Or using power tools while texting.
Much of the time when we try to do several things at once, we wind up doing each of them poorly.
God, on the other hand, is a master at multi-tasking, and He does everything perfectly.
When we think God is doing one thing in our lives, He’s actually doing many things at once. And much of what God is accomplishing is completely off our radar screens.
As theologian John Piper says, “In EVERY situation and EVERY circumstance of your life, God is always doing a thousand different things that you cannot see and you do not know.” And, “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of 3 of them.” (I invite you to read Piper’s excellent post on this topic.)
It’s a truism that it’s easier to destroy than to create.
I saw this in action recently in my own neighbourhood.
A two-storey house had been damaged internally by fire, although it looked salvageable from the outside. Nonetheless, the owners and insurers agreed that it should be demolished and a new house built in its stead.
I imagine the original house had taken months to build. It probably involved scores of people in its construction: contractors, carpenters, bricklayers, roofers, electricians, plumbers, and the like.
But it only took one man with one large backhoe a few hours to raze that building to the ground.
It was shocking how quickly the structure was destroyed. What could have lasted for decades was levelled in the space of a morning.
A cautionary tale, don’t you think?
If we’re not careful, we can see the same thing happen in our own lives.