One of the classes that I am taking at Weimar College this semester is general chemistry. As a part of this class I get to write three devotionals with object lessons that are drawn from chemistry. I've decided I should share them on here, especially since my posts have been so few and far between lately. May God bless you all!
Generally, by the end of the day, I am tired, have worked hard, and my to-do list is still has at least a couple stubborn items left that were not accomplished. No matter how much I do, there is always more. With the busyness of the modern age, and especially since the rise of technology, most people in this world have experienced a never ending to-do list. Nature, however, seems to show us a different example; an example of being able to accomplish more than expected.
One place we see this example is in aqueous solutions. Many reactions will only take place when dissolved in water, when they are aqueous. Three types of these aqueous reactions are redox reactions, acid-base neutralization, and precipitation reactions.1 Not long ago, I discovered an interesting phenomenon with one of these reactions. While writing out and comparing the theoretical and actual data of an experiment I had just run, I found that the actual percent yield of my product was greater than the theoretical percent yield. Perplexed, I started to wonder if there was an error in my math. Finding none, I began to discuss with several of my classmates who had also discovered this problem. It turns out, what we experienced is to be expected when working with aqueous solutions.
Extra calculations must be made to account for the presence of water when using aqueous solutions. For accurate measurements, products from the reaction must be dried before weighing. Otherwise, the mass of the water in the product will be added to the mass of the product itself, skewing the data. In our reaction, one product was a liquid, and the other was the solid that had supposedly been produced in larger quantities than chemically possible. To measure the mass of the solid product, we had to physically remove it from the liquid and weigh it. When we did this, we let the product dry off before being weighed, but it did not dry long enough. The extra mass in our data was showing up because there was still water in our product. We discovered that, with water present in a reaction, it’s quite possible to achieve a percent yield greater than 100% because of the presence of hard-to-remove water in the products.
Chemistry is not the only place where this phenomenon takes place. In our daily work, it is possible to do more than we think. When, like chemicals that dissociate in water2, we let go of self and are surrounded by the Holy Spirit, the work done in us will bring forth a spirit-filled product that is much greater than we ever could have accomplished. Just as the reactants will do nothing until both are placed in an aqueous environment, humanity can do nothing of its own power. It is not until we are brought in contact with the water, the Holy Spirit, that change takes place in us. The sinful, human heart can only be changed when saturated and dissolved by the Holy Spirit. Then, when we work with the Holy Spirit, our labours will be more fruitful than they ever could have been had we worked on our own, just like the reaction that yields more than 100% in the presence of water.
We do not need to become discouraged when the work we have to do is more than we can humanly bear. God has given us a precious promise: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”3 When we are surrendered to the Holy Spirit, His “power that works in us” will do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” “There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, by putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart and lives a life wholly consecrated to God.”4
1“Reactions in Aqueous Solutions,” ChemPaths, accessed September 27, 2013, http://chemed.chem.wisc.edu/chempaths/GenChem-Textbook/Reactions-in-Aqueous-Solutions-525.html
2Eric J. Mechalke, Ph.D, Chapter 4 Files, last modified February 1, 2012, http://www.drmechalke.com/chem1025/Chapter4_files/Chapter4.pdf
4Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (
: Pacific Press,
2005), 250.4 Nampa