The Gospel According to Wham-O

Flying a Frisbee is tough. Teaching a 7-year old to fly a Frisbee is even tougher. I found that out as I taught my daughter to fling that round piece of plastic through the air without hitting the tree next to her or winging the dog behind her. Sigh. Teaching a 7-year old anything is pretty tough.

Most of us learned to throw a Frisbee by throwing it. You sort of get the hang of it and figure it out as you go. My daughter? She’s a question-asker. She kept asking questions like, How does it work, Why does it fly, and Why does it keep going to the right? Answers like, Because you’re not throwing it hard enough, Because you’re throwing it too hard, and Because it just does all right, weren’t good enough for her.

So off to the internet we went!

We found a cool video that explains some of the science. And after watching the video…my daughter had more questions. But I had some answers I didn’t expect.

You see, flying a Frisbee is tough. Following God’s lead for our lives is even tougher. But they’re both pretty much the same.

And with that, I want you to think about this.

If you watched the video then you know the science of a Frisbee is pretty simple. Just fling it and it flies. It works off the same idea of an airplane wing – Lift and Drag. Lift pushes up on the front edge of the Frisbee, while drag pulls down on it. The lift and drag of a Frisbee have to be in a certain balance to work. Fling it too hard, and it lifts off to the right and then down into the ground. Fling it too soft, and it drags down to the left and lands a few feet in front of you.

Lift and Drag. Working together. Push too soft, and it won’t reach the destination. Push too hard, and it will over shoot the target.

Now, think of that Frisbee not as a piece of round plastic with a perfect little lip, but as important decisions you make in life. We all want to make good decisions in life, we all want to end up in a good place. And many of us believe that God plays a pivotal role in that. If you want to follow God’s lead, there’s a tension between God’s Sovereignty and our own Free Will. Lift and Drag.

“God’s got it all planned out.”

“It’s all up to me.”

An ages-old debate I don’t think we’ll settle here, but in thinking about that Frisbee I came up with some conclusions:

1. Both God and I Play Important Roles.

You can’t expect either lift or drag to do all the work on the Frisbee. You have to have both. Or it’s not a Frisbee, it’s just a plate.

My life is not completely determined by God. “Yeah, but the Bible says that God has numbered our days, right?” Well, read that again. Go find it – one of those places is in the Psalms – and see if it really means what you think it means. If it really is the case that God has numbered out our days, then nothing we do makes a difference. And I just can’t believe that. You may disagree, and that’s fine. Plenty of people have. But my decisions are important and are a big part of what happens to my life.

My life is not completely determined by me, either. I’d like to think that I’m 100% in control of my life. I decide when to get up in the morning, what to wear and what to eat that day, and how I’m going to spend my time. I decide what job I’m going to do, who I’m going to hang out with, and where I’m going to live. But I’ve lived on this earth long enough to see some things happen that were so completely outside of my intentions that I just shake my head and think, “Wow, God, you really put that all together, didn’t you?”

2. There’s a Balance Between Force and Freedom in My Decisions.

Think about that Frisbee flying through the air. If I push it too hard, it flies out of bounds. If I don’t push it hard enough, it falls short. Same thing with my life. If I follow too hard after one particular thing, I could overshoot the goal. If I don’t put enough effort in, I’ll come up short.

Just like lift and drag work together to get that Frisbee going, there’s both force and freedom I have to use in my life decisions. Sometimes I need to force a particular issue or event, other times I need to let the freedom of life take over. And that can be tricky. Flying a Frisbee is tough, remember. But you balance your life decisions with a bit of wisdom – and wisdom only comes through living life, and usually from making some mistakes. You learn to fly the Frisbee life by pushing a little hard here and letting up over there and eventually you sort of figure out that balance.

3. My Life Will Only Move Forward if I Keep Moving.

The science of the Frisbee is known as gyroscopic force. That’s a big word that means a spinning object will maintain a stable orientation as long as it keeps spinning. You get the right balance of lift and drag, you hit that sweet spot where the Frisbee flies straight and flat, and that bad boy will keep going until it stops spinning. There’s some more science to it, but that’s really all you need to know. If the Frisbee spins, it moves.

The best way to make sure you don’t move forward in life is to just stop. If you’re doing something, you’re going to move forward. Even if it’s not exactly what God has planned – as long as it’s not a self-destructive behavior – then it’s still okay because you’re moving, you’re doing, you’re gaining momentum.

“But I’m just waiting for God to tell me the next move.”

That’s fine. While you wait, keep moving.

“I don’t want to make a move without God.”

Don’t worry, he’s still there. While you move and work and do good stuff, he’s going to be watching and smiling. Trust me. God doesn’t get upset when we do good stuff.

So those are some of my thoughts from flinging a Frisbee around. Maybe you’ve had some similar thoughts, and maybe your ideas are a lot different than mine. That’s fine, I’d still like to hear them. And I hope you come back in a couple of days to read part two where I talk about an explanation and an example – why I don’t think God is completely in control, and why I think he’s more in control than I usually believe he is.

Until then, why don’t you head outside and play Frisbee with your kids. Trust me, you’ll have a great time…even if the Frisbee ends up in a tree.

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  1. […] week I’ve been writing about Frisbees. You can find part one here and part two here. Frisbee flying takes keeping a balance between lift and drag. Too much force and […]

  2. […] ← The Gospel According to Wham-O May 29, 2014 · 1:21 pm ↓ Jump to Comments […]

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