Several years ago I took a business course. The course ended up being more than a waste of time, but it did have interesting moments. One was the first day when the instructor told us to go around the room and give an adjective – that started with the same first letter as our first name – that described each of us. Mine was “something Ann.” I can’t even remember. We started class each day for at least a week by going around with these adjectives and our names. It was a name-learning activity, and it was effective for that purpose. It was also silly!
But the interesting part was what the instructor said when she introduced the activity and began, “I am centered (Cathy - not her name).” It became obvious over the weeks of the course that the instructor desperately wanted to find a center for her life. The problem was she is searching in all the wrong places – mostly turning over New Age stones.
However, the “game” caused me to reflect on “centering.” We all long for a “center.” The problem is that we look for a “center” in all the wrong places, too.
Blaise Pascal (1623 – 1662), the French mathematician/physicist and philosopher, wrote: “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”
Perhaps this is what the wisest man who ever lived – King Solomon – was referencing in Ecclesiastes 3:11 when he writes of God’s placing “eternity in (our) hearts.”
God’s plan is to fill that vacuum with His eternal presence – to fill us at our very center of being with a longing for Him and Him alone.
Pascal made many major discoveries in physics. He proved the existence of the vacuum which paved the way for hypodermic syringes, barometers and hydraulic devices. He also developed the theory of mathematical probability and helped shape the field of calculus.
Pascal knew the rigors of living with chronic pain from his teen years until he eventually became a cripple as an adult. Often when the pain kept him from sleep, he did some of his most ingenious thinking.
I’m sure his chronic pain may have taught Pascal many lessons. It was always with him. He learned that no one can solve the deepest mysteries and needs of life with their intellect. He knew well (from his pain and life) that man can do great things while being very flawed at the same time.
Many life experiences shaped Pascal’s heart but the milestone moment in faith was a near fatality in a carriage accident. At age 31 Pascal came to a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. His heart was restored forever! His life was centered in Christ, his Creator.
The day Pascal came to know Jesus was so important to him that he wrote a reminder of his commitment to Jesus and sewed it into the lining of his coat. This note was found in the lining of his coat after he died at age 39. The note said (in part): I have come to know “the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob. … I will not forget Thy Word.”
As Pascal lay dying – in great pain – he watched the poor of his city trudge past his window while the rich rode in their carriages. One of his last great ideas was the bus – public transportation.
Blasé Pascal demonstrated a restored heart in action as he put his considerable skills as a thinker and physicist/mathematician to work in practical ways to help others.
Blasé Pascal was centered in Jesus – the only real Center for life and forever!
© Ann Holmes, 2007. All Rights Reserved.