Friday, January 21, 2011

Physics and Relationships

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  – Philippians 2:3~4

In high school, one of my teachers told us that physics was a tough subject. So when I entered college to take up engineering, I was apprehensive as to how I would cope with the subject. I survived my fourth year physics, but I thought that college physics should be a lot more difficult. I was afraid yet determined.

After a few classes, I gradually realized that there were already formula that would guide us students in solving problems. So the real challenge for me was to keep this bunch of formula and equations from jumping out of my head during the exams, and to know when to apply these. Fortunately for me, I found a way to make my life easier. I forced myself to love physics and I backed it up with lots of hard work. Yes, it was a shotgun marriage, but it worked!

I knew of some students who would grimace when they heard the word ‘physics’ and make a puke gesture. I can understand that. But now let me tell you why I like physics. Physics is simply beautiful. Once I got over the common cliché attached to it like ‘hard’ and ‘difficult’, I saw a world of matter and energy interacting ‘perfectly’ with one another. It's beautiful because it attempts to explain this ‘perfect’ interaction, an interaction made ‘perfect’ by God Himself.

Once a phenomenon is fully understood, the theory used to explain and predict it is elevated to a higher status called laws. Some of the famous laws are Newton’s laws, Einstein’s laws, Thermodynamic laws, etc. As a rule, a law should hold through in any and every conditions and circumstances.

Our interaction, our relationship with each other is also governed by laws that if followed will lead to great relationship. Fortunately for us, we don’t have to have an IQ similar to Einstein, Newton, etc. to discover these. All we have to do is to open the book of God, the Bible.

Take for example these words taken from the book of Philippians:

           Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.             

Put it simply: For a relationship to work, everyone involved should stay humble, unselfish and look after the best interest of the other first. The model, to me, should look like a circular chain with each link supporting the other.

This is quite contrary to what is practiced by many people today. This should explain why our world is what it is right now. We are globally interconnected by the internet, but there’s no sense of global brotherhood and unity. Even in the confines of our homes, this holds true sometimes.

It’s about time to put God’s way into practice. What was spoken 2000 years ago still holds true today. Let us start with our own home, and our own community. This is quite a daunting challenge, but with God’s grace nothing is impossible! God doesn't intend for us to do it alone, but we have to start with ourselves. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Different New Year's Eve

“The Devil had already put into the heart of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, the thought of betraying Jesus.” -- John 13:2

I checked my cellphone, it was already 11:00pm. In an hour, a new year will come. My mind started going over my list of desired New Year’s resolutions. You see, my idea of a New Year celebration is to eat with my family and then later curl into a quiet corner to reflect on the past year, and look into the new year until early dawn.

By then, I was already etching to go inside our house to prepare the arrival of 2011, but my wife was still joyfully attending to the customers of her small sari-sari store. And our children who were still outside were in a festive mode since their cousin, Jay-Jay, just arrived from Canada. It was a happy night for all the families in our little compound.

Then the glasses of beer started coming in courtesy of my brother-in-law, the father of Jay-Jay. Since I’m not really a big fan of beer I began concocting polite ways to decline the offer. But then it occurred to me, this was my opportunity to practice what I preached – value relationships. I told myself that I would drink not because I craved for a cold beer (I didn't), but to celebrate the arrival of my brother-in-law and his family. Besides they only visit once a year; a few glasses of beer shouldn't be a big deal.

Unfortunately, I misjudged my system and had more beer than it can handle, so sheepishly I announced my retreat, and staggered to my home. As the firecrackers detonated, blew and sparkled in the evening sky by midnight, I was happily snoring into dreamland – good night to curling into a quiet nook to reflect and write.

Every start of the year, many of us are compelled to make a New Year’s resolution because of the idea of a fresh start. It’s like a new empty book is handed to us to write anew our life story, to correct the past year’s mitakes. In truth, many of us are eager to write not only a good story, but a great story about us. And this is perfectly normal.

So we merrily skip and jump our way into the new year full of excitement. However, before we get disillusioned we should not forget that every great story requires great effort and great sacrifices. Sooner or later, in our journey we will hit a brick wall. “Why can’t it be easy,” a few hisses.

God plant good dreams in our heart. However, He also allows thick brick walls along our way. This is not to stop us but to force us to change ourselves. Because only a new us, a great us, can pass through the thick wall and play the great story that you and I wanted to write for ourselves. And we pass through not by fighting it, but by adapting to it – changing our thinking, habit, and attitude. The ‘you’ and ‘I’ now are not qualified, at least not yet.

So if the brick wall is my (and your) friend, why I failed to play out all my previous resolutions? The brick wall was not the problem as you may already know now; the problem was doubt and fear. While God plants good thoughts in our heart, Satan does the opposite – talk to poor Judas. Satan twisted the way we look at the brick wall, as an insurmountable, three-eyed, hairy giant monster to be avoided and feared rather than as the forging hand of God that will change us for the better, and therefore should be welcomed.

Looking back at my New Year’s Eve, I really did not just drink beer, I sipped a potion of change that celebrates frienship and connection with my brothers-in-law. Yes, it was a different New Year for me, but a new me begs for a new and a better story….so does your story for 2011, my friend.

PS: I did finish writing my New Year's resolution a couple of days after, and I now carry it with me everyday.