According to the second law of thermodynamics, in any isolated system, the degree of disorder tends to increase with the passage of time. In our world, everything has a natural tendency to move from a higher state of order to a lower state of order. Energy – in the form of some effort or action – is required to prevent this process from taking place.
Entropy is used to measure the degree of disorder in a system. It causes our automobiles to break down and erodes the supports of bridges, leading to their eventual collapse. Entropy is the reason most electric gadgets last only a few years. Human mortality is related to the amount of entropy in our bodies.
The second law of thermodynamics is frequently cited by Christians as a manifestation of the sin nature. God originally created everything in a perfect state; when Adam and Eve disobeyed and fell from grace, the structure of all things was transformed to a flawed state.
We are all born captives of a disintegration process. Since the fall, everything has been affixed with an expiration date. Some material items may have a longer shelf-life than others, but in the end they all fall victim to decay. The next time your water heater goes on the fritz, you can blame Adam for your aggravation.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men”(Rom. 5:12).
Help, I’m Falling Apart
In my early days of youth, I viewed “aging” as something to look forward to. As I grew older, I could accomplish new, exciting feats. Aging allowed me to graduate from school, get a job, drive a car, and have my own living space. Once I hit my 20s, the benefits of aging quickly dissipated.
Now that I’m in my late 30s, I’ve noticed that age has gradually begun to take on a negative connotation. The most noticeable changes have been in the area of my health. During a 12-month period, I’ve observed several subtle signs that entropy is at work in my physical body. Here is a list of some of these minor problems:
My eyes have developed a slight near-sighted condition.
I have a few more lines in my face.
My weight has increased.
The hair on my head is thinning a bit.
In certain situations, I have trouble swallowing food.
My feet swell up more easily.
I get twitches in my right leg.
It seems to take me a little bit longer to remember facts and figures.
Eating starchy foods occasionally leaves me with an upset stomach.
I haven’t turned into a hypochondriac, nor am I suffering from some type of grave illness. All these ailments are part of the natural result of the disintegration process. I could exercise more, stock up on health remedies, or try plastic surgery, but eventually the negative effects of aging will catch up with me. I am like the flower that grows, blooms, then fades.
I consider myself to be quite fit for my age. I’m sure some of you folks might be able to think of a longer list of conditions you are suffering. Many of my friends have developed health problems that have had a more profound impact on their quality of life. Because there is little we can do about the aging process, we generally resign ourselves to accept these aches and pains as a natural occurrence.
We tend to rely on the experience of others as our guide, and most folks are very satisfied with their general state of health. Even up to the very end, a positive attitude tends to reign.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
“Count it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3).
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Lying To Ourselves
It is a wonderment why the average person is not more mindful of the temporal nature of life. The deterioration of our physical condition is a slow process, but one would think it would eventually cause people to reflect on the meaning of their existence.
It is a blessing that God has instilled in us the gift of optimism. Without it we would probably reach a point at which we would decide to put a gun to our head once our health diminished to a certain level. The downside of having a hopeful outlook, however, is using it as a shield that hides us from the reality of our mortality.
The failure to factor in the chances of one’s own demise is the reason some people make choices that have deadly results. I read a report about a skier who climbed a mountain that was redundantly marked as a danger zone for avalanches. He walked passed four warning signs, one of which depicted a skull and crossbones beside a message stating, “You can die if you go beyond this point.”
Did the skier go on to have a great time on fresh virgin snow? No, I obviously chose this story to make a point. It should be no big surprise that the man was swept away by the very disaster he was clearly warned could befall him. The man died because he lied to himself about the severity of the snow hazard.
We don’t need to put ourselves into an avalanche danger zone to be at risk. The disintegration process puts us in constant peril. We may board an airplane with engine trouble or drive in a car that suddenly blows a tire. Our bodies can suffer similar types of failure. The heart can at any moment develop complications that lead to cardiac arrest.
When it comes to dealing with the subject of death, people who are still in their prime of life are normally the ones who have to confront the issue. The person actually going through the process is often the one least concerned about it. The lack of focus is largely the result of four factors:
Avoidance/denial – Many people avoid dealing with what will likely be their fate. They talk about anything but the subject of death. They may even refuse to believe they are ill and deny any indication otherwise.
Focus on Recovery – Some folks spend much of their final days focusing on the hope of their eventual recovery. They may talk about what they plan to do when they get out of the hospital. Hope for recovery can be found in the most dismal of situations. Someone who may have a type cancer regarded as 100 percent fatal will still place a tremendous amount of hope in some new wonder drug.
Reminiscing – People who are in the twilight hours of their lives often spend their remaining moments sharing happy thoughts and reflecting on what they have accomplished in life. They use the time they spend reminiscing about the past to counterbalance their negative experiences in the present.
Being Distracted – Some people become so busy making minor plans that they fail to see the big picture. They could be actively involved in making arrangements for their own funerals and not consider that they will be the ones in the coffins. The ones doing the distracting are often friends and family. Because of the unpleasantness of dealing with mortality, they tend to divert their loved ones’ attention to secondary issues.
Time Is Running Out
Because many tasks in life take long periods of time to accomplish, time management is an important consideration. It can take someone well over a decade to become a fully licensed doctor. Some folks spend their whole lives trying to achieve a goal. Rapture Ready might be one such project. For me it has been a work in progress for 17 years now.
Many people don’t realize time is running out until it is almost completely gone. In 1983, my father discovered this truth right before he died of emphysema. He gave up cigarettes immediately after he learned he had the disease, but it was too late.
One day while downtown on business I encountered an elderly man in a walker who was slowly crossing the street. I was struck by how the passage of time had reduced him to moving at a snail’s pace. I have reflected on how ironic it was that, at a point when time was the most precious, this gentleman was restricted to moving through life at a reduced speed.
Because the disintegration process erodes our ability to act and think, we need to make important decisions while we have the opportunity to make them. People who are active in a church will eventually have to give up their duties because of age. The person who thinks he can serve the Lord in his retirement years doesn’t understand how the aging process works.
The Bible is full of examples of people who failed to make wise use of their time. The worse misuse of time is made by people who put off trusting Christ as their Savior.
“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4).
Christians Have No Excuse
When I joined the military in 1987, I purchased a one-year-old Pontiac Sunbird, and drove it for 14 years. I would have happily driven the car forever, but unfortunately, the old sedan finally became unreliable. Because it needed repairs that would cost more than a newer car, I had to send the Sunbird to the junkyard.
The Bible tells us this world will someday be sent to the recycling center for renewal. Once the tribulation and 1,000-year millennium have run their course, God will incinerate all traces of human civilization. He will then establish a new, perfect world free from the stain of sin.
The disintegration process may have been a judgment on mankind, but I think God designed it to be reminder of the brief nature of our earthly existence. With everything in this world doomed for destruction, it is foolhardy for Christians to solely focus on our earthly existence.
We are the ones who should know this world is of fleeting importance. Unfortunately, believers do not view their mortal lives as having a secondary importance. In about every facet of human activity, the material realm is given priority over nearly all spiritual matters. The Bible strongly advises that we remain heavenly focused, but many of us have a hard time translating that into action.
The best decisions are made when we consider things that have lasting value. Of all our accomplishments in life, the only deeds that matter to the Kingdom of God are the ones that pertain to evangelism, righteous living, and all works deserving of eternal rewards. All other pursuits are, as the Bible says, “wood, hay, and stubble.”
“For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch” (Mal. 4:1).
“For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11).