Bumper Sticker

My dad was a physics professor (now apparently he is a fruit tree planter – that is if you go by what occupies his time, but I guess that’s retirement for you).  He is also a rebel.  I don’t mean a good ‘ole boy, though he currently lives in the high-up hills of North Carolina, nor a “the man is keeping me down” social reject kind of rebel…he simply likes to be different from the norm – sometimes for no other apparent reason.

On the rear bumper of our Carolina-blue, 1976 F150 pickup truck he had this sticker.  It was a simple black background with white text that said, “May the net force be with you”.

You’ve got to understand, Star Wars was huge then…for the first time, and people everywhere were familiar with the phrase, “may the force be with you”.  You also have to understand that my Dad didn’t put bumper stickers on his vehicles.  Ever.  Until then.

So apparently, in physics-speak the net force is the difference making force.  10 pounds of force vs. 12 pounds of force from the opposing side has a 2 pound net force.  In asking him why he felt that of all the bumper stickers in the world, that was the one he broke down and put on his truck, his response was underwhelming.  He simply said, with a bit of a quirk to his smile, “well, that’s the only force that ever makes a difference.”

In later years, I inherited the truck (which I loved) and the bumper sticker (which I didn’t… ’cause I don’t put bumper stickers on my vehicles.  Ever.  Yet.).

In theological terms, we call it prevenient grace.  The grace that goes before/ahead.  It basically states that God didn’t leave us in a state of depravity in which we could do nothing but evil all the time, and neither did he elevate us to a level wherein we could never choose to deny him and sin.  He enables a moral balance in which our will is now empowered to make the difference.  Is Satan as strong as God.  No (read “no” with a lot of guffawing going on on my part), but he restrains himself to give us room to choose.

You are the one that makes the difference.  You are the net force.  God-enabled, yes, but your choice, your will, your responsibility.

I hope I never put a bumper sticker on any of my vehicles, but if I do, I hope that I can with a bit of a quirk to my smile, say something as elegantly understated as my Dad did.

May the net force be with you

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