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Jayne English

Gyroscope by Professeur-Mauvais via  deviantart   

Gyroscope by Professeur-Mauvais via deviantart

One thought can produce millions of vibrations and they all go back to God ... everything does. 
John Coltrane

Do you remember playing with a gyroscope as a kid? You’d snap the string, lean down eye level with the table, and watch it spin on its axis until the momentum slowed and it wobbled to a stop. The gyroscope’s movements are the same ones that weave through our lives. It appears balanced enough, but the view from the axis can look like a lot of frantic spinning.

David suffered this intensity through his ordeals as king. You can hear it in words like these, “Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord” (Psalm 30:8). In this one sentence, he begs God three times to help him. That’s the pleading of a man careening toward the edge.

Howard Nemerov’s poem about a gyroscope characterizes its motions as being “spun with steady force.” For all the blur of spinning, trials molded David by the dynamics of balance: he wrestled to hold on and to break free; ached for more and gave thanks for less; feared calamity and walked in peace.

In spite of David’s frantic prayers throughout the Psalms, he exhibits a profound and centered stillness, just as the gyroscope, for all its vibrations, can spin even on the narrow width of a string or on the tip of a pen. As Nemerov puts it:

A silver nearly silence gleaning a still-
ness out of speed

In his book, Prayer, Tim Keller tells us that what helped Job weather adversity was that he “processed everything through prayer.” This is exactly what we find David doing in Psalm 30 where he brings his anguish and desperation to God. Keller continues, “It’s through prayer that God does the work of change in our lives.” We don't know how long David waited for an answer from God, but he is quick to tell us how the struggles, the “steady force,” changed him, “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.”

Nemerov blends both the steady nature of the gyroscope along with its erratic images when he adds:

It is whirled not on a constant course, but still
Stands in unshivering integrity

What a picture of David and Job’s lives, and hopefully ours, that they can stand in the whirlwind in “unshivering integrity.” From our point of view on the axis it looks like careening panic. But from God's view, we spin until the “hollow spaces seem/Solids of light.”