I’ve always liked physics. Not enough to take an actual class, mind you (that would require math-horrors!) but enough to enjoy discussions about the amazing laws of nature, and to conduct science experiments with our kids as they grew up. Every day before school we’d gather in the kitchen for “project time” and quickly suspend a ping pong ball over a hair dryer to see the Bernoulli Principle, or rub balloons on our hair to demonstrate static electricity. Cotton balls, empty bottles, sponges, egg cartons- even a passing siren that showed the Doppler Effect, became a magical part of our mornings.
You probably recall similar teaching moments from your own childhood, at home or at school. Who can forget the boiled egg getting pulled into a bottle by a lit match, or a plastic soda bottle shooting into the air to demonstrate Newton’s third law of motion? Not only were these illustrations entertaining to watch, but an exciting reminder of the laws and powers God used to organize the world we live in. Science and creativity combine every day to dazzle and amaze us, if we’re paying attention.
We think of such laws as firm and dependable, though scientists revise them all the time. It seems the world’s great thinkers often find new information that changes a fact into a maybe, shedding new light on the way things really work. It can make us wonder if anything is firm and constant, if any law is absolutely immutable.
And here’s where it gets exciting, because there are several laws that will not and cannot ever change-these are God’s commandments. It’s one of the eternal constants, that God will keep his promise to those who obey his laws. In fact, it’s something that often appeals to nonmembers investigating our church and finding that we don’t adjust our doctrine to suit the masses or social whims; God’s laws are forever and unchangeable. You can “take them to the bank,” so to speak, because God will never rub his chin and say, “Well, I’d like to adjust that one idea…”
Of these dozens of eternal principles that will be true forever, is one you can see every day in your own family. It’s also evident at the workplace and, actually, anywhere. It is the rule that the Holy Ghost will not reside amidst contention. The minute strife arises, the minute a quarrel begins to brew, the Holy Ghost leaves. Missionaries are told not to contend or argue with those who would engage them in debate. Why? Not because they will lose the argument but because they will lose the Spirit. No one will listen, no one will convert, and only Satan will win by wasting your time. How can the Holy Ghost testify to someone that the new information before them is true if he isn’t even there?
Likewise, the mood of your home will be negative and you’ll feel an actual vacuum of the missing Spirit, when family members fight and quarrel. It doesn’t mean you can never disagree, but allowing the discussion to become contentious will drive away the joy and contentment otherwise brought by the Holy Ghost. It’s as instant and automatic as a law of physics. And, conversely, kind words and loving tones invite the Spirit in abundance, and create a climate of warmth and happiness that’s virtually tangible.
There’s a great way to demonstrate this in a class or in a Family Home Evening lesson. It uses water tension. A good way to explain this to young children is to tell them that water molecules tend to look like a silhouette of Mickey Mouse-one big oxygen atom and two small hydrogen atoms that resemble his head and ears. Normally these silhouettes stick together in a row, as if all the molecules are holding hands. Fill a glass with water and sprinkle black pepper on top. The pepper flakes will rest atop the water, held there by this “hand holding” cohesion called water tension. Now add one small drop of soap. Suddenly the pepper scatters-the soap has broken up the water tension, splitting apart the pepper and sending it in all directions. Like contention driving away the Holy Ghost, the soap has driven away the pepper.
(I hasten to add, here, that if you have children like mine they will quickly begin campaigning that soap is a bad guy, so you might want to explain that dirt is an even bigger bad guy and soap an essential part of cleaning!)
And you can demonstrate the opposite, as well. If a magnet represents kindness or unity, what will it attract? Definitely the Holy Ghost, which could be represented by any number of metal objects you could find around the house.
God’s laws are unchangeable, a firm set of rules that can be tested and applied with identical results every time. For those who wish to rebel against these laws, there will forever be frustration. But there is wonderful comfort for the wise, who will find time and again, the reliable blessings of obedience.
Be sure to read Hilton’s blog at jonihilton.blogspot.com. Her latest three novels, Jungle, Sisters in the Mix, and Pinholes Into Heaven are available at Amazon, www.mormonbooksandauthors.com, and in paperback at Createspace.com.
Her most recent LDS comedy is Funeral Potatoes-The Novel (Covenant Communications), available in LDS bookstores. She currently serves as Relief Society President in her ward in northern California. Her radio advice show can be heard at blogtalkradio.com/jonihilton on Thursdays at 2pm PST