“Sinner!” The toddler struggles to say my name. What should have been ‘Zanna’ sounds suspiciously like ‘Sinner’. Our laughter encourages her. “Sinner, Sinner, Sinner!” She’s right. A ‘sinner’ I am. A sinner struggling against the law of entropy, that second law of thermodynamics, the gradual movement towards disorder. But I’m a sinner starting afresh.
A new home. It was a tired old place, but has undergone a facelift. New doors, new walls, new floors. All I have to do now is simply clean up each day and it’ll stay spick and span forever.
A new body. After a minor but drawn out health issue resulting in an impressive weight loss, this is my chance to start again. All I have to do is simply say ‘no’ to poor choices as well as move the old body from time to time, and I could be at my ideal weight for the rest of my life.
A new job. My new colleagues don’t know my reputation for getting stressed about unexpected changes and procrastinating as long as possible. All I have to do is simply undertake with a good attitude any task that needs doing at a particular time, and I’ll be a model worker for the rest of my career.
A new church. Thousands of kilometres from my spiritual family of the past decade, this community has no expectations of me. No demands. I slip quietly into a rear pew and lap up the music and teaching. All I need to do is simply prayerfully consider the opportunities for service and make wise choices, and I’ll be a fulfilled church member for the rest of my days.
Yet nature is against me. The law of entropy is frighteningly powerful.
I sit down with a mug of steaming coffee. I’ll put the milk away later. The dirty cup can sit in the sink until I have accumulated a few more dishes. The garden has a wild appeal – why impose structure on it? The laundry basket is overflowing, the bed unmade, the dust thick enough to write in, the living room cluttered to the point of having to carefully tread through to the front door and the kitchen is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. A nightmare?
Just one more chocolate bar. Just a little extra on the plate. Much needed rest when I’d planned to go walking. The exercise machine accusingly glares at me as I drape another wet towel over its handlebars. The bathroom scales are flawed. The changing seasons affects them. Hot water causes the clothes to shrink. Bloating results in puffiness in the face, neck, torso, arms and legs. But why the ever broadening backside? A nightmare?
The job is tailor made, but the team members seem short on patience with my reasons for neglecting to do all they expect. Before I know it, my responsibilities are few and the sense of fulfilment has dissipated. Murmurs come from the leadership about ‘releasing’ me. A nightmare?
The label of ‘newcomer’ in the church wears off. Others enter the doors for the first time, but I ignore them, comfortable with my own small circle of acquaintances. Church gardening, cleaning, morning tea duty, these tasks are too menial for the likes of me. The bigger jobs are too onerous. Prayer meetings are scheduled at inconvenient times. Home group demands an unreasonable commitment of time. Fellow parishioners seem polite but distant. A nightmare?
Chaos. Disorder. Misery.
Three millennia ago, an esteemed philosopher understood the impact of entropy. “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control” (Proverbs 25:28 NISV). Two millennia ago, the apostle Paul understood the struggle with entropy. For believers, he explained, self-control is a key feature of our freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:13-26). Like those early Christians, we’re free, and yet even today we still battle the powerful force of entropy.
My nightmare reflects the law of entropy. The horror of mayhem, obesity and purposelessness is imminent.
I thank God that this remains mostly a nightmare, not reality. I thank God that there is a force more powerful than entropy. The Spirit of the Almighty One lives in redeemed sinners like me. We strive towards the goal of Christ-likeness, not having yet reached it, but we encouraged by His promise of power.
The power that works in us is the same power that raised Jesus from death.(Philippians 3:10-12) Now that’s anti-entropy!
All Powerful Creator and Sustainer, have mercy on me, a sinner.
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