Lesson 1 -- fourth quarter 2007
September 2, 2007
© Copyright 2007
Marvels all around
Most of us look about and enjoy the marvels of God's creation -- the beauty of a rainbow, the brilliance of fall leaves, a door knob. "A doorknob?! What does that have to do with this?" (Hold the question for a few paragraphs.)
You owe your life to the unpretentious leaf. It converts the earth's raw materials into the stuff of life called food. In some plants, these raw materials must travel long distances from roots to leaves. The best man can do with suction pumps relying on atmospheric pressure is only 33 feet. A giant sequoia suctions water and minerals from far below the surface upward well over 450 feet!
You owe your life to the little leaf. It transforms carbon dioxide into the breath of life called oxygen. It relies on microscopic stomata which line its bottom side and of which it may have as many as 35,000...per square inch. These stomata are not simple mini-holes in the leaf's surface; they are openings which open and close! Guard cells control each stoma to regulate the intake and output of carbon dioxide, oxygen and water vapor.
In the fall, the leaf's life cycle winds down with a blazing contribution to nature's beauty. How can something so green turn so yellow or red or purple? Our leaf has pigments in it -- yellow (carotene and xanthophyll), red and purple (anthocyanins), and green (food-making chlorophyll). Chlorophyll is more abundant, masking the other pigments. However, with the cessation of food-making, chlorophyll dies and the other colors shine through. The amount of sugar in the leaf and the amount of sunlight striking its anthocyanin affect just how much purple and red will develop. Now you know why sugar maple trees turn such gorgeous red in autumn.
Talking about colors brings us to the spectacular rainbow. What does it take to make a rainbow? White light and water droplets. White light is actually a combination of various colors and from it the water droplets "extract" seven colors. The beauty and apparition of the rainbow depend on refraction (bending). When sunlight passes from the air into the water droplet, its speed is reduced slightly. This causes the light rays to bend. Each color in white light is affected differently from the others. The original white sunlight disappears, replaced by the other colors which appear because they are bent at different angles. The rays are reflected inside the droplet, and refracted again as they exit the raindrop. Presto! A rainbow in the far sky!
Oh, yes. The doorknob. It is mostly nothing. The hard surface you feel is akin to a tangible mirage. You can grab it, but it really isn't there! Let's go sub-atomic to explain this marvel. Zillions of atoms compose this knob. Each atom is mostly empty...like our solar system. Our solar system has the sun with its planets; each atom has its nucleus with its electrons. Of the different illustrations used to drive home the emptiness in an atom, my favorite drops a marble in the middle of a sports stadium. The marble represents the atom's nucleus; the stadium's outside walls, the electron's orbital path. If we could increase the Earth's orbital speed around the sun enough, our planet would produce the same effect as a solid ring about the sun. So in the atom. When you grab that doorknob, be aware you are touching a "fake" surface created by zillions of electrons whizzing around in a bunch of "nothing"!
Like from like
Way back at the time of Creation, God issued a decree: reproduction according to kind. This means canaries produce canaries, whales produce whales, corn produces corn and people produce people. Elementary.
The orderliness of this law is such that in His time in the flesh, Jesus could ask rhetorically, "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matthew 7:16).
Even in our day, we find this natural law so, well, natural, that even the least educated person wouldn't expect to raise strawberries with pine seed, nor would he expect a hummingbird to hatch from ostrich eggs.
Like produces like. Can you think of any exceptions? Neither can I. Like produces like. That's just the way things work. Because God said so.
In a sense, nobody needs to tell us that Canadian thistles will always produce Canadian thistles, and will never produce horses, salmon or even dandelions. Not very far into the process of living we just learn things like that. And we don't really need to be reminded of such facts.
However, there is a spiritual application here for which we need frequent reminders. My values, my thoughts, my actions, my words, my motives, my ambitions--all these also reproduce after their kind.
What shall I do when my thoughts are less than noble? What shall I do when they get stuck in bitterness, lust, mistrust, vindictiveness, self-pity and all their unkempt kin? Think nobly! Sure, as in a garden, the weedy thoughts need to be yanked out and refused nourishment and refuge. But also, as in a garden, the good thoughts need to be sown and tended with careful persistence.
Do you want to be encouraged? Do you want to be an encourager? Then determine what kinds of seed produce encouragement...and plant those seeds at every turn! I challenge you to bring several samples of these seeds to your Sunday School class. You can surely encourage each other to be(come) encouragers.
Sometimes we get tired of tending the good seeds and attacking the weeds...because it seems the only thing we harvest from our gardens is weeds. In the course of several weeks, the most we got out of our garden were weeds by the wheelbarrow loads! Furthermore, some corn, beans and potatoes needed to be replanted. Let me tell you, we garden for more than the pleasure of poking seeds in the soil and weeds in the wheelbarrow! But we stuck it out...and now we eat beets, beans, carrots and cucumbers from our garden.
The same is true in the gardens of our lives and the lives of others. So let's encourage ourselves with this truth from today's lesson: Like produces like. Always. So, "let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:9).
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