Leaning

By: Pastor Jarren Rogers

“God is a good choice to lean on. He has a proven record of faithfulness to those who commit their lives to Him.” — Joyce Meyer

Do you remember Pavlov’s famous conditioning experiment? Pavlov performed his experiment on a group of dogs, predicting that he could condition them to salivate at the sound of a bell.

So, around feeding time, Pavlov would ring a bell, then set a food bowl in front of the dogs. The next day, he did the same thing – ring then food. Then again and again. Until, one day, Pavlov began to notice that before the dogs would even see the food, the sound of the bell would cause them to salivate. They had been conditioned to equate the bell with food being delivered.

All of this happened in the 1890s. But modern scientists wanted to take it a step further. If animals could be conditioned, what about plants? Could plants learn to associate something inconsequential, like a bell, with food?

Similar to Pavlov, these plant scientists set up an experiment. Instead of dogs, they had pea plants, and instead of food bowls, they had blue LED lights. So, day after day they turned on these lights coming from one direction, and they began to notice that, unsurprisingly, the plant began to bend towards the light.

But, then they added in the “bell”. In this experiment, they used a fan. They placed the fan right next to the light. And again, day after day, they would turn on the fan and then the light, both coming from the same direction. Fan then light. Fan then light. And again, unsurprisingly, the plant began to lean toward the fan and light.

Finally, they reached the most important part. They began one day, by only turning on the fan. No light, no “food”. So, scientists left them overnight, in the dark, with only the fan on. They came back the next morning and, to their surprise, the plants had leaned towards the fan! They had been conditioned to associate the fan with a light that would eventually turn on!

As I thought about this experiment, I thought about the fact that many times, we can feel like that plant. I think that we live our lives and we see that God is good. He blesses us. He provides for us. He speaks to us. And we praise Him for that fact. We feel like plants in the sunshine. We begin to equate our “good days” with God’s goodness. Just like a plant equating the fan with light.

But then, inevitably, the lights go out. We are left in the dark. We experience loss, a great tragedy, or some unbearable sorrow and God’s goodness hangs in the balance. When we walk through our difficult circumstances it’s hard to believe that God is still good.

But, just like the plant, even when the light wasn’t turning on, even though it sat in the dark, it still leaned into the fan, towards the hope of eventual light, we have to do the same. Even though life seems grim, we must lean on our God. We have to hold fast to His goodness in the midst of tragedy.

We sit in the dark and simply lean towards our Savior because we know, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

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