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Wind in your Sails












By Rabbi Daniel Lapin
September 30, 2012

Kids, don’t try this at home, but an experienced adult with nerves of steel can quickly whip out a tablecloth from beneath expensive china place settings without doing any damage. He would be relying on Newton’s first law of motion which says that objects tend to keep doing whatever they were doing.

If they are at rest, they stay at rest unless some force makes them move. If they are moving, they tend to keep moving unless some force makes them stop. Being at rest, the plates initially resist the tablecloth’s impetus to move.

Isaac Newton broke this important news to the world in 1687. Since then we’ve understood why plates remain on the table even while the tablecloth is rapidly pulled away. We’ve understood why a fast-moving truck will keep on rolling for a while, even after it has run out of gas.

What Newton, as a deeply fervent Bible-believer would not have been baffled to hear, is that physical laws have spiritual equivalents. Just as objects like plates and motor vehicles tend to keep doing exactly what they are doing, so do human beings. Whatever life habits we’ve fallen into, either good or bad; we tend to just keep on doing.

Admittedly, it is possible to obey Newton’s first law of spiritual motion and continue doing the right thing by walking with God. However, that is not all that God expects from us.

Noah, for instance, righteously walked with God. (Genesis 6:9) However, Scripture qualifies his praise by indicating that he was perfect, but only in the context of his evil generation. (Genesis 6:9) When Abraham came along, he walked not with God, but before God.

…God in front of whom I have walked… (Genesis 24:40)

What is the difference? If I am traveling together with another rider on a tandem bicycle, I have very little power to change direction, especially if he is in front. The destination might be perfectly satisfactory, but it does not necessarily express my own conscious and deliberate choice. We are connected, not independent.

By contrast, if I am riding my own bicycle ahead of my companion, my destination is entirely in my own hands. I can blame nobody else and nobody else deserves the credit for where I go.

Abraham was willing to walk ahead of God and take responsibility for changing the direction of his life. Ancient Jewish wisdom tells us that at age three, Abraham began searching for the Source of all. He resisted the prevalent thinking of his time and set out to search for the truth.

Even those of us who already recognize the Source would do well to emulate Abraham. Leave those things that are most familiar and which anchor you to behavior patterns that inhibit your potential for growth. Carefully examine your life for instances where you might be missing out on exciting possibilities by walking only with God instead of, like Abraham, before God.

This brings us to Newton’s second law of motion, which says that any object that has a force applied to it not only moves but also picks up speed. This law, too, has a spiritual equivalent.

When we take the initiative by walking ahead of God, His force will not only move us to marvelous new opportunities but it will accelerate us towards them at ever-increasing speed. We only have to start the process by identifying those dragging anchors in our lives that prevent us from exploring desirable change.

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Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known world-wide as America's Rabbi, is a noted rabbinic scholar, best-selling author and host of the Rabbi Daniel Lapin Show on San Francisco’s KSFO. He is one of America’s most eloquent speakers and his ability to extract life principles from the Bible and transmit them in an entertaining manner has brought countless numbers of Jews and Christians closer to their respective faiths. In 2007 Newsweek magazine included him in its list of America’s fifty most influential rabbis.

You can contact Rabbi Daniel Lapin through his website.

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When we take the initiative by walking ahead of God, His force will not only move us to marvelous new opportunities but it will accelerate us towards them at ever-increasing speed.

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