The Mechanics of the Slide
The physics of sliding down a playground slide has to do with gravity, friction, inertia, and kinetic and potential energy. Your speed will be affected by your weight, the condition of the slide and the temperature. For a child, there is little that compares with the exhilaration of a good slide. In Lone Hill, South Africa there was a playground within walking distance of our home that contained a huge slide. The children were hesitant to climb the step ladder to that slide purely because of its height.
The picture above is “Slide Hill,” the longest slide in New York City, on Governors Island. Children exude anticipation as they climb up and slide down the famous slide in this new park. A couple of lessons: 1) It takes effort to climb to the top of a slide; and 2) you slide downward quickly.
A Sinister Slide
There is another infamous slide that is recorded in the Scriptures. This slide is ugly. It is harsh. It is fatal and destructive. It starts out at the top in Romans 1:18 and continues rapidly downward, through twists and turns, to verse 32. There is a baleful initial description of the ones sitting at the top of that slide. The people who start down this slide are not thankful. Ungrateful people suppress the truth of who God is and exchange it for a lie.
1:21 “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Thankfulness is an antidote to temptation. The inverse is also true. Ingratitude seems to invite every form of temptation and sin. I have often mused over how ingratitude seems to create the fertile conditions of sin prospering. My daughter Elly once said that “it is hard for a selfish person to be thankful.” The essence of sin is self – self-absorption, self-preoccupation, self-rule and self-worship. You see all of your blessings as coming from your dreams and your hard work. And yet you are not fully a god just yet, so you are chronically competitive, discontent, and unthankful.
There are two things that sin does not love to do; to honor and glorify God as the source of every good thing, and to thank God for every good thing and for every bad thing He is working together for our good. Sin wants to replace God with self and with alternate loves that supposedly will bring happiness to self and awkwardly try to fill our God-shaped void.
If you sense that you are not a very thankful person, perhaps it would be good to do some introspection. Why do I not want to be thankful? Do I want to count my many hardships? Is it just that I don’t think about being thankful? Or do I disregard it?
Cultivating thinking thanks keeps us from beginning down the long and winding slide that is smooth and breezy at the top but becomes indulgent, brutal, empty, and destructive toward the bottom.
“Genuine thankfulness is an act of the heart’s affections, not an act of the lips’ muscles.” –John Piper