October 20th, 2013

Just Plain Messy

My high school physics class never made much sense to me. In fact, there is only one thing I learned in that class that still sticks with me after all these years–the idea of entropy or the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Systems tend to go from a state of order to a state of maximum disorder.

Finally. After endless pages of meaningless numbers and symbols and equations, here at last was something that actually made some sense. In fact, the truth of this law has only become more evident to me in the years since high school. A house containing small children is one of the clearest examples of entropy you could ever hope to find.

Toy boxes overflow. Kids’ closets don’t stay organized. The ability of my kitchen counters to collect and grow junk never ceases to amaze me, and once a week, when I give my bathroom a thorough cleaning, I am astounded by the fact that–once again–it really, really needs it. Left to their own devices, messes multiply: Toys scatter, juice spills, and dirt accumulates. If I don’t constantly work at returning things to a state of order, the house will always end in a state of maximum disorder.

It occurred to me recently that this same principle of entropy applies to our spiritual lives as well as the physical state of the universe. If we don’t work continually at improving ourselves and making advances in our prayer lives, we drift all too easily in the opposite direction, toward chaos. Small faults and neglects, if not attended to, eventually lead us into bigger sins, and then still larger ones follow from those. So, the tendency of our homes and our children toward disorder is a healthy reminder. Choose carefully: By work or by neglect, we are all moving in one direction or the other.

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