For those of you that can remember your physics you will recall that the difference between centrifugal and centripetal force is the direction of the force. Centrifugal force takes place along the radius of the circle from the center outwards. Centripetal force is the opposite, also taking place along the radius of the circle, but from the outer ring of the radius towards the center.
Recent events have made for a naturally centripetal world. We are staying home with a relatively small number of people. For many of us our world has shrunk to family, media, books, games and an occasional trip to the store. Phone, Zoom, and FaceTime keep us a little more outward focused, but it is hard to maintain those contacts as time drags on.
The psalmist knew the interplay between the centripetal and the centrifugal. For instance in Psalm 51 David is intensely introspective and reflective for much of the psalm, a force directed toward its center. But toward the end of the psalm David is resolved to teach transgressors the ways of the Lord (13) and open his mouth to declare the praises of the Lord (15). The force is moving away. In Psalm 34 David again recalls a time that was intensely focused on the immediate needs of affliction. But upon coming out of that time he is inviting others to “bless the Lord with him”, “taste and see that the Lord is good”, “come, O children, and listen”. David is moving away from the center, overflowing with what he has discovered. As you read the psalms and other scriptures I am sure you will notice this same pattern.
And so I ask myself, what will this look like for me? First, am I learning what God would have me learn during this centripetal time? Are my roots sunk deep into the streams of the Lord? Am I drawing from Him? Is my soul being filled? Then second, am I ready to be unleashed? The sons of Korah in Psalm 42 remember “how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise (4).” It is this hope that buttresses his soul even while downcast, “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him (11).” My friends these 5 weeks have been long, but they will end. May the Lord do a work in our hearts that cannot be contained!
Sunday we will begin a new series, a study of the life of Elijah. Elijah appeared as one in the midst of darkness. One writer described the spiritual situation in Israel this way, “Every light had been extinguished, every voice of divine testimony was hushed. Spiritual death was spread over everything, and it looked as though Satan had indeed obtained Mastery of the situation.” But the Lord knows what his people need and he will not abandon them to themselves. I can’t wait to meet his servant Elijah, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand …”