Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
I’ve written prior on a geological phenomenon called “mass wasting“, i.e., the constantly shifting, heaving, nudging, and fissuring of the earth beneath our feet causing both subtle and seismic movements in the crust that keep us on our toes around, say, cracks in the asphalt as well as reminding us to stock up on supplies if we live in earthquake territory.
I find this an apt metaphor for both small and big temptations that rock and roll in mind and spirit and eventually surface to do their own kind of damage if we are (figuratively) unaware, unprepared–and off guard.
There is another geological series of events that illustrate a different kind of spiritual phenomenon that also fascinates me: the geomagnetic reversal often referred to as a pole shift. And it seems that this year, 2019, it’s ahead of schedule.
“Image of Supercomputer models of Earth’s magnetic field. On the left is a normal dipolar magnetic field. On the right is the sort of complicated magnetic field Earth has leading up to a reversal”. Click on the image for a clearer view. (Source: NASA)
From time to time I like to check on the progress of the reversal just out of curiosity–and sheer fascination.
I mean, who knew?
Besides the mass wasting going on all the time beneath our feet (of which there is almost constant visibility), there is another powerful force both afloat and embedded below, only this one is much deeper, evidenced and seen in both the liquid core and higher up in the cooled crust.
We are not likely to stumble upon its effects, however, unless we drag a magnetometer across the sea floor.
A geomagnetic reversal is a change in a planet’s magnetic field such that the positions of magnetic north and magnetic south are interchanged (not to be confused with geographic north and geographic south). The Earth‘s field has alternated between periods of normal polarity, in which the predominant direction of the field was the same as the present direction, and reverse polarity, in which it was the opposite. (source)
According to geologists, reversals are random (the duration of a full reversal estimated as being anywhere from 2,000 to 12,000 years by some calculations), but the current one seems to have sped up.
It’s a field of discovery and study that is relatively new, historically, and enhanced by modern technology, yet the phenomenon is as old as, well, dirt.
So watch your step, so to speak,–and check your compass and GPS–because you never know.
But what fascinates me about the lengthy reversal process is the fact that the bits and pieces of magnetized, sedimentary material moving with the molten flow and embedding eventually in the cooled core can, at length, amass enough power to reverse the magnetism of the entire planet!
Now THAT is some power!
With small beginnings–a bit of rock nudged loose here, a shard there; a scosche of organic detritus loosened here, a handful there–all continuously, silently, gradually, build their collective strength until one day the Great Shift takes place.
Who knew indeed!
But there you have it.
For a metaphorist like me*, the geomagnetic shift is a wonderful analogy for the action of the Holy Spirit deep within believers. Only in reverse.
The Holy Spirit, one of three persons in the Triune God, and sent to us by Jesus’ request after His ascension back to heaven, teaches leads and guides us down here. This begins at salvation, deep within the new believer’s spiritual core, you might say, where, in this case, the powerful shift takes place from lost to saved, old man to new man, damned to redeemed.
In other words, in contrast to the earth’s magnetic shift, which is a cumulative work over time, the spiritual shift occurs at our rebirth, when, by faith, we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.
From there, the spiritual change begins. St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians, puts it elegantly:
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (3:17-18, NIV)
This change results from–and is enabled by–the Holy Spirit sent by God thanks to the redeeming work of the cross by His Son, Jesus. And “thanks” is hardly the word for the price Jesus paid there, bleeding out to pay the price of our redemption…
As to subsequent changes, results and effects of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, however, in that there is a resemblance to cumulative geologic activity.
Like the beginnings of a magnetic reversal, the effects of our new life in Christ are wrought as we yield, minute by day by month by year, to what the Holy Spirit works within us by our obedience to God’s Word and by nestling close in the shelter of His wings, as the psalmist put it.
In this way, our spiritual transformation is like the subterranean word of geomagnetism, subtle and silent, gathering strength over time.
However, while evidence of this power shift doesn’t often manifest in visible changes and reversals, as do natural events, it works its own phenomena.
By the power of its evidence, i.e., its “fruit” of “Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23), the gradual manifestation of the spiritual shift overcomes evil, promotes wisdom, softens hearts, heals, saves, delivers, restores, refreshes, reconciles, and leads, guides, and directs the lost into the light.
And it sets us free at the core.
In short: God’s love at work in us and through us continuously works its own “reversal power”–not only in the temporal but also the eternal.
Stay close and carry on.
*Just as God shows Himself the Archetypal Mathematician, Artist, Musician, and so on and on to people of those particular bents, He continuously shows Himself the Metaphorist of metaphorists to me.
Computer enthusiasts sometimes talk about life being a computer simulation (à la The Matrix), but in what I see, hear, taste, touch, and smell, I perceive the Original Poetry Man.
I get it, how, if we don’t do so, even the rocks and stones will cry out in recognition of His glory, honor, and majesty.
Indeed, if we study them closely, listen carefully, we can hear them even now…selah.
I am reminded here of this clip from the movie A River Runs Through It that helps explain the power beneath the surface of natural phenomenon that inspires a greater understanding of the depth and meaning of life, as well as, at least to me, the depth and meaning of God in Three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Consider…