Sunday, March 20, 2011

Unfolding the Variables

My kids had a science fair yesterday.  I was a judge (for the other kids, not theirs).  They each had to identify the constant, the independent variable, and the dependent variable.  It got me thinking about my Christian life and if that could be related at all to it.  I think it can in some small way.  Let's start with the constant.  That would be God.  James 1:17 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  The dependent variable is the thing to be measured.  I would say that is where we are in our walk with God, how close we are to Him.  The independent variables are the things that are changed to produce a result.  These are the struggles we come across in life.  These things are constantly changing.  They are different for everybody, and each life will experience many, many struggles before it has ended.  No matter what the struggle, though, I know one thing for certain, GOD IS CONSTANT.  He NEVER changes.  When things are good, like the verse says, God doesn't change; but when things are tough GOD NEVER CHANGES.  In no way am I making light of any struggles anyone has.  I just know that whatever I am going through I can always go to God.  I know right where to look. I know He will hear every word I utter.

Hebrews 12:2 says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  How do we fix our eyes on something that is always moving?  We can't.  If we don't know if God is going to hear us, why would we go to Him?  If we don't know if He's going to be mad or happy, why would we go to Him?  God's Word tells us that we should FIX our eyes on Jesus.  This means He is constant, unmoving.  His love never changes.  He loves you just as much today as He did yesterday and as much as He'll love you tomorrow.  He wouldn't have gone to the cross if His love changed from day to day.

Hebrews also says He is the author and perfecter of our faith.  The more we depend on Him, the more we become like Him.  He perfects our faith.  It can't be helped.  When we are in his presence, we are changed.  May we all remember in good times and in bad God wants us to look to Him.  He loves each and every one of us.  He NEVER changes, but thank God he changes us!!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. "... constant variable ...," is this an oxymoron? If something is constant, it does not vary. If something changes, it is not constant. Oh well, I will leave this one for smarter people to unravel.

    While mentally changing your piece to just "constant" (taking off the variable part), this is a very interesting topic for me. Perhaps I didn't learn much in engineering graduate school, the idea of these three terms was very important. I did my research thesis on structural optimization. I know, I know, ... this might be too detailed for somebody having trouble with geometry and minimal information for triangle problems. In a very short summary, the optimization problem was to find the best design, allowing certain parameters to vary, but minimizing (or maximizing) an objective function. One such application might include finding the best mechanically designed part, using the least amount of material, and yet meeting all the stress and deflection limits.

    These problems were built around having independent and dependent variables. The stress functions were dependent upon the shape of a structural member. The volume of a member was dependent upon the dimensions of a member, such as a beam. The material characteristics were constant, such as modulus of elasticity, acceptable maximum stress.

    But, the concepts are not unique to structural optimization. I do much reading of letters, comments, bulletin boards, etc. I see a lack of understanding of these concepts. Information is used to an effort to justify a position, when it is unrelated to the path to form the position. In other words, the information has no bearing on the outcome. The information may be right in its own way, but has nothing to do with the subject at hand.

    In the end, these ideas are related to critical thinking. Being able to sort through facts, information, and "stuff" and to be able to understand the interrelationships is so important. I fear that development of critical thinking skills is being lost in our education system. In our age of information technology, it is so easy to get trapped into just gathering facts and information, and then not knowing what to do with it, how it is interrelated, and the value in development of a principle or idea. The fun and excitement of learning so much on its own merit may jeopardize one's ability make use of the harvest. Learning how to categorize the facts into the dependent variable, the constant, and the independent variable can be a valuable skill.

    Is this what the science fair was about?