One day a teacher set up a telescope in his classroom so that his students could view a certain planet and its moons. The students lined up to peer into the telescope, and one by one each one confidently affirmed that he could see the planet and the moons. The whole project was humming along nicely until one student looked into the telescope and said, “I can’t see anything.”
The statement angered the teacher a bit, and in a tone of annoyance he told the student to adjust the lenses. The student did so but still claimed to see nothing. At that point the teacher leaned over to the telescope and had a look for himself. To his complete surprise, he saw nothing. Upon investigation he discovered that the lens cap hadn’t been removed from the telescope. This is a true story, and the student who said, “I can’t see anything” was Benno Muler-Hill, who would go on to become one of Germany’s leading biologists.
This story reminds me of an experience I once had in high school. Stan Elkins, our Physical Science teacher, stood before our class one day holding two objects, one in each hand. I can’t remember precisely what the objects were (forgive me, 35 years have passed), but one of them was obviously heavier than the other one. Stan said, “I’m going to drop these two objects at the same time, and I want a show of hands as to which one will hit the ground first.” The three choices were: the heavier object will hit first, the lighter object will hit first, or both objects will hit at the same time. I remember the hands of the entire class, except my hand, going up to vote for the heavier object hitting first.
As for me, I voted for the option that both objects would hit the ground at the same time. When Stan saw my solitary hand in the air, he grinned at me and asked, “Are you sure, Russ?” That’s when I started waffling, which was quickly followed by me answering, “No” and dropping my hand to about half mast. I mean, c’mon, it’s one thing to write down an answer that no one but the teacher will ever see; it’s something else entirely to get horse laughed by a room full of your peers because you are the only idiot among them. When Stan saw me backing up from my answer, he just laughed and said, “Ah, he’s not so sure now.”
Okay, now it was time for him to drop the objects. Everyone in class grew deathly silent as he first made sure that the objects were at equal distances from the ground. Then he did the drop.
And what was the result? Both objects hit the ground at the same time. The whole class was astonished except for me. I was just mad at myself for not sticking to my guns under pressure. It also didn’t help that Stan smiled at me and said, “You see, Russ, you should have trusted yourself.”
By now you are probably wondering what compelled me to give that answer anyway. Well, I assure you that it wasn’t because I was so much more brilliant than my classmates. No, I gave the answer because I had an advantage over them.
Through no planning of my own, I had recently watched an old television show in which a man had taught a boy a lesson by dropping two rocks, one heavy and one light, to the ground. (Again, 35 years have passed and I can’t remember the name of the show.) And like my classmates, that boy had assumed that the heavier rock would hit the ground first. But just as Stan’s experiment would prove a few days later, in the man’s experiment both rocks had hit the ground at the same time. The man had then explained to the boy that the famous Italian scientist Galileo had taught the world the odd fact that gravity accelerates all objects at the same rate, regardless of their mass or composition.
(For the record, Galileo’s discovery is now known as “The Universality of Free Fall” or “The Equivalence Principle,” and it’s a cornerstone of modern physics. Albert Einstein used the principle to formulate his theory of relativity. It should be noted, however, that the principle can only be perfectly displayed by items being dropped inside an airless vacuum. This is because if the air resistance is great enough on an object, it can cause that object to fall at a slower rate. For example, a bowling ball will hit the ground long before a piece of paper even though gravity is pulling on them at the same rate.)
Okay, now let me get to the point of this post, and it has nothing to do with physics. The point is that God had used that old television show to reveal truth to me, truth upon which I should have firmly stood in Stan Elkin’s class that day. Like a lot of Bible-believing Christians, though, when the pressure rose a bit I folded like a cheap card table in regards to what God had revealed to me. All it took to get me to forsake what I knew to be true was some laughter from my fellow students and just a touch of questioning by Stan. That, I say, to my everlasting shame.
But tell me, Christian, is there some God-revealed truth that you have forsaken lately? If there is, what was your reason for forsaking it? Did peer pressure get you? Did a potential loss of friends or even family cause you to fold? Did you fear being ridiculed? Or did you forsake God’s truth because Satan got you with the same lie that he used on Eve: “Has God really said…”?
Whatever it was that caused you to waffle on God’s revealed truth and lower your hand, let me encourage you right now to confess your sin to God, repent of it, and embrace that truth afresh and anew. That might require you to revisit some conversations you’ve had with people. It might require you to make some changes in how you’ve been handling situations. It might even require you to rearrange your entire world. But in the end the all-important question that you have to ask yourself is, “Am I going to take my stand upon the truth that God has revealed to me or not?” You see, it really does come down to just that. And if you answer that question wrongly, then get ready to live with regret for the rest of your life. Take it from someone who could have stood tall in a Physical Science class one day but wasted the golden opportunity.