Among Jupiter’s 79 known moons is Io, first discovered by Galileo Galilei and Simon Marius in 1610. It’s not the biggest of Jupiter’s moons. That notoriety belongs to Ganymede, which is larger than the planets Mercury and Pluto.
But Io is certainly one of the strangest moons. It’s known as the Volcano Moon because, more than any other planet or moon in our solar system, Io writhes with volcanic activity. At any time, Io has more than 400 active volcanoes, including Loki which is twice the size of Mount Everest and spews sulfur and sulfur dioxide more than 300 miles into space. Io’s ever-changing surface is colored with shades of yellow, red, white, black, and green due to lava flows, extensive sulfur deposits, and volcano and mountain-building activity.
What causes all of Io’s seismic contortions? Io is caught between two great forces – the gravitational pull of Jupiter and the gravitational pull of Jupiter’s three largest moons: Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa. These forces cause Io’s surface to bulge 328 feet outward each day, generating “tidal heating” that expresses itself in hundreds of umbrella-shaped plumes of volcanic ash and lava. The result is a very “angry” planet.
You know, Christian believers sometimes forget that they also are caught between two forces. They are pulled between the force of God’s Spirit who exerts His influence on us to draw us to God, and the force of sin in our sinful nature which seeks to draw us down to our own destruction. This ongoing tension between God’s “pull” and the influence of our sinful nature generates a lot of tension within us. Sometimes we “erupt” a little. Sometimes we spew out some unpleasant things. Sometimes we cry out, like the apostle Paul, “Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). And sometimes we wonder if we are any better because of God’s influence on our lives – because it’s resulted in such a battle within us. Elsewhere Paul describes the war that rages within us between the sinful nature and the pull of God’s Spirit when he writes,
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intensions” (Galatians 5:16-17, New Living Translation).
Who shall deliver us from this body of death, from this torturous tension? Paul wrote, “Thank God, it is through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25), when Christ consummates our salvation at the resurrection of the dead. Until that time comes, the battle will go on. We will have our outbursts, our slips, and our losing ground. But don’t be discouraged. Christ understands our dilemma. And as we allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in our lives our gains will be greater and ever increasing until Christ declares the ultimate victory when He comes.
PRAYER: Dear Father in Heaven, the battle within me rages on and I feel the opposite forces of good and evil pulling me in different directions. Please conquer me, O God, and take charge of my life. Help me to gravitate in Your direction and to nurture my soul from your word, so that the grip of sin will finally slip away. Amen.