Are you sitting still as you read this? Standing still? Lying down still? You are probably doing one of those, since reading is easier when we are still. Where I live I have seen one gentleman who reads as he walks, but I think that is a little risky because one may step someplace where one would rather not step, so I don’t read and walk at the same time. I also don’t read if I am in an automobile or other ground transportation where there’s a lot of movement. I develop motion sickness real fast if I do that. Airplanes seem to be okay, so long as the ride is smooth and there is no turbulence, and if there is turbulence I’m not reading anyway. I am clutching the seat with white knuckles hoping I can make the plane stay in the air. So far, thankfully, that has worked in every case. Like you, I prefer to be still when I read, especially in airplanes.
There is, however, one little problem with our perception of being still: it is a total illusion. A necessary illusion for this physical life, but an illusion nevertheless. From the day you are born you are moving in ways that you cannot fully comprehend.
There are approximately seven octillion atoms in the average human body. Some of us are carrying around more atoms than we should, but even the average of seven octillion is a lot of atoms: 7 followed by 27 zeros. Atoms are what you are made of at the most basic level, and they are never still. They are constantly vibrating. Besides the vibration, the electrons in each atom revolve around the nucleus of the atom at incredible speeds. At the most basic level, you are always moving. You are a vibrating mass of billions and billions of atoms, each with its revolving electrons.
A more familiar example of constant motion is the rotation of the earth. The earth rotates at a speed of 1,070 miles per hour, and we call one rotation a day. You and everything else on earth are being carried along at this breakneck speed as the earth rotates. Gravity is the only thing that keeps us from spinning off into space.
In addition to rotating on its axis, the earth revolves around the sun at a speed of 67,000 miles per hour, carrying with it the moon, which is revolving around the earth. We call one revolution of the earth a year, so your age at each birthday tells you how many times you have been around the sun.
The sun also revolves. It is moving around a black hole at the center of our galaxy, taking along Earth and all the other planets as it moves at a speed of 600,000 miles per hour. At that speed it takes 200,000,000 years for the sun to complete one revolution around the black hole, which, fortunately for us, is about 27,000 light years from Earth. And the galaxy itself is moving through space at 1.3 million miles per hour, taking with it the sun and billions of other stars. Perhaps it too is going around something on a scale too vast for us to comprehend.
Have you ever felt like you are going around in circles? You are! Just thinking about all that movement may make you a little dizzy, but at least the next time someone tells you that you have just been sitting around all day you can tell them that you have actually been quite active.
The interesting thing about all this is the common theme we see in the universe of everything rotating or revolving around something else. It is almost as if the Creator of all that movement is trying to tell us something. Maybe He is. Spiritually speaking, our lives should revolve around God and His way of life. In other words, we should be in God’s orbit. There will be bumps in the road, but things will turn out okay if we are in God’s orbit.
There are many examples of this in the Bible. One of my favorites is the Old Testament story of Joseph, the son of Jacob. Joseph was in the orbit of God, but that doesn’t mean that everything always went smoothly for him. Far from it. When he was 17 years old he was sold into slavery by his own brothers. He was taken to Egypt and sold to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. That must have been very discouraging. Being betrayed by members of your own family is a bitter pill to swallow.
But Joseph was still in the orbit of God. Things worked out well for him in Egypt because Potiphar was so impressed by him that he was appointed superintendent of Potiphar’s household. But then Potiphar’s wife brought some false allegations against Joseph and he was thrown into prison. That must have been very discouraging. Just when things seem to be getting better for Joseph he ended up in prison.
But Joseph was still in the orbit of God. After a time he interpreted the dream of Pharaoh’s chief cup bearer, who was imprisoned after apparently doing something to offend his royal employer. Joseph told him he would be reinstated as cup bearer, and he requested that when the reinstatement occurred that the cup bearer would mention him to Pharaoh. But when the cup bearer went back to his old position he forgot about Joseph. That must have been very discouraging. Just when there seemed to be a glimmer of hope, things did not work out and Joseph spent another two long years in prison.
But Joseph was still in the orbit of God. Eventually Pharaoh had a dream and he wanted to know what it meant. At that point the cup bearer remembered Joseph and Joseph was brought before Pharaoh to interpret the dream. He told Pharaoh that there would be seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine and that grain should be saved during the good years to get Egypt through the bad years. Pharaoh was so impressed that he appointed Joseph to a high position of leadership position in Egypt so the country could prepare for the coming lean years. At that point Joseph was not yet 30 years old, and as far as we know things went well for him after that. Eventually even his family came seeking assistance during the famine. Things had come full circle for Joseph because he was in the orbit of God.
The overriding theme in Joseph’s story is faithfulness. God always rewards faithfulness. If we continue to obey and trust Him through the good times and the bad then He will ultimately work things out in a positive way according to His purpose. That is what He did in the case of Joseph, and that is the message as we ponder the incredible ways in which we are constantly moving even when we think we are still. Let us always stay in the orbit of God.