I was up in the foothills two weeks ago with my two youngest daughters getting a Christmas tree, when I learned once again that one can’t skirt the laws of physics just because of one's equipment. I never studied physics in high school or college, but I was always intrigued by what I assumed a course like that would entail. I could have explored basic physics but instead chose something I could get an ‘A’ in to balance my underachieving grade record at the time. So, what business do I have even using the word? I’m no scientist! Well, because I just want to tell you a story. You make the spiritual application … or not.

I let my daughters play hooky from school (I know!) and we headed up to the ranger station to get our tree tag (I guess before one kills a deer they must have a tag, so they make it that way for killing a tree too?). Anyway, we got our tag and headed up Forest Service road 70. We soon ran into snow, but I just shifted my wife’s Ford into ‘4 high’ on the fly and proceeded with confidence. When we got into heavier snow I simply stopped, put it into neutral, flipped the switch to ‘4 low’ and again we did well. We stopped often and had a blast jumping in and out looking for just the right tree. The girls brought the camera and took a card-load of pictures of the white covered beauty of God’s creation. And we enjoyed the mountain air, despite the smell of my cigar (I know, that's a tradition too, Rom. 14:3-6). Finally, we all agree on a good tree, killed it, and tied it in the truck (you have to do that with deer too!).

Listening to country music (I know! I have daughters!), the girls took turns asking me questions about driving in the snow.
“Well, where I grew up,” said I, “we had snow every year, and you just kinda learn how to stay off the brake pedal and under power so you can gear down. You stay off the bumper of the person in front of you and …” About that time, we shifted back into 4 high and brought the speed up to about 40 mph (I know!) because there was much less snow. While we (they) were singing along with 102.9 because we couldn’t get THE WOLF way up there, we rounded a corner and began to slide toward a deep ditch on my side of the road, into oncoming vehicles if there were any coming up. This always happens fast, except in the mind’s eye! Being quite accustomed to emergency maneuvers, I immediately panicked, took my foot off the gas, and stepped on the brake (Doh!) On the way to the ditch, I’m having a short conversation with myself about basic physics that began with, "Shelley's going to kill me ..." and continued something like this, “Rod, just because you have 4-wheel-drive you can’t overcome the laws of basic physics. You’re going too fast for conditions, you became cocky up the mountain, and you failed at the most basic moves necessary when confronted by the laws of physics. Dude!” Then my inner voice became audible as I cried out to the One who put the laws of physics in place in the beginning: “Oh, Jesus, help us...!" Just at that moment, I realized what I was doing wrong and corrected it, and back on track we went. All was silent but for the sound of my heart beat, as we slowed down. It took a bit for the noise of the radio to return.

Then it hit me: disobey the laws of physics and it can instantly ruin an otherwise delightful day. Drive safely my friends. Like the bread truck says,
"The buns you save may be your own.” And always remember, no matter what your equipment is, the laws of physics are always in place.

Merry Christmas
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Basic Physics