I returned from running errands to find my friend, Shannon Cook, helping my sons with a science experiment – just an easy exercise intended to cement some principles they’d be learning at their weekly homeschool co-op. Brilliant tutor that she is, she’d been intentional about finding some hands-on ways to get the boys involved in an assignment that, if left to their own devices, they’d be more likely to hurry through just to get to recess as soon as possible.
You know how it goes.
The difference between mixtures and solutions: that was the discovery they were attempting to demonstrate. I walked in, grocery bags in hand, to see that she’d gathered a collection of things like baking soda, cheerios, rocks and sugar; each in separate plastic cups on the counter. The boys were instructed to pour water into a cup, one by one, and record the effects of the water on the contents in each. They poured, stirred and then emptied the cup out over a colander that was balanced over the kitchen sink in attempt to see if the item in the cup had melded into the water completely or maintained its own identity.
This, in essence, is the linchpin that separates a mixture and a solution. Here’s the definition straight from their science textbook . . .
A mixture is two or more substances that are combined, but not combined chemically. Each maintains its own identity.
A solution is a mixture where one of the substances dissolves completely in the other.
One maintains its own identity while the other does not.
I stared, listening to their discussion but transfixed on the spiritual implication. My mind racing back to a familiar Christian slogan – Be in the world . . . but not of it.
Mix, but maintain your identity. You can be in your world without being of it. Don’t dissolve into the culture so that you are no longer recognizable as a separate and distinct person with ideals and values that do not always coincide with political correctness. Mix, so that you are engaged and aware of those in your sphere of influence – your neighborhood, your school, your place of work. Be willing to go, to sympathize without being judgmental, to express compassion, to listen, to offer help, even to enjoy. But don’t liquefy. Don’t dissolve. Stand out like a red umbrella in a sea of black ones, cheerios in a pool of water, rocks in a cup full of H2o.
Be in your world today – alert, engaged, aware, enjoying – but then be sure when you look in the mirror at the end of the day you still see . . . you . . . in your God-given newness of life. Intact. Complete. Uncamouflaged. Untainted. Unspoiled. Unstained.
In the world, yes. But not of it.