Occasionally I come across something during study that is so indicative of God’s imagination that it becomes even more inspirational than it is instructive. One such example is the frequency domain.
A little background:
Humans carried on with virtually no knowledge of the frequency domain for millenia, even though its ability to sort human activities has always been potent. In recent times humanity’s increasing reliance on signals with precise and highly regulated frequencies has brought scientists and engineers into the frequency domain in search of solutions. The basic idea of the frequency domain is simple, but it challenges intuition. Any segment of information —a few seconds of human speech, for example— is naturally represented in time. This is how our senses pick up the world around us, and it is the domain in which we live. In the frequency domain, however, time is replaced by frequency of oscillation. Any physical signal may be “transformed” into this domain, where it is broken down into its constituent frequencies of oscillation. If you wish to comprehend a signal’s message, this representation is ideal.
By way of example, consider the musical note middle A. Suppose I play middle A on a piano, holding the note down for perhaps ten seconds. In time, our ears perceive a sudden presence of sound followed by a gradual fade. In the frequency domain, by contrast, middle A is a single spike in the frequency spectrum at 440 Hz, because that is (ideally) the only frequency at which the piano’s middle A string is vibrating. Although we rarely consider the frequency domain by its name, our brains frequently grasp its usefulness: the other musicians in the quintet listen carefully for the frequency (the pitch) of the piano’s note as they tune their instruments, while the fading of the note (in time) is irrelevant.
All this lecture-bound information placed in my mind a picture of mankind’s fundamental limitations. How often do we live squarely within the time domain, carving out confusing and contradictory paths from one day to the next! We grasp the concepts of order and virtue, and we know we are capable of placing them in our lives, but our consistency lacks.
I believe our problem is one of perspective. When I, as a child, first observed a message being transmitted in Morse code, I was awestruck. I simply could not believe that flashes of light could say anything meaningful. One thing I knew for sure: if it were me controlling the light, the intended recipient would sooner experience a seizure than comprehend a message (this still rings true today…).
In life, everything we say or do or think is like one of those flashes of light. Unfortunately, we are born ignorant of life’s Morse code. Some of us conclude that life is about making as many flashes as possible, while others view success as burning one’s light continually and never turning it off. We get pretty good at things like this, but so many of us die without ever having communicated a message.
I believe that humans were created to live a message, a message that harmonizes with the character of God. We are told in the Bible that Adam walked alongside God and spoke with Him. God showed Adam all the frequencies in His character, and before the fall, Adam’s life was a pitch-perfect picture of the message God intended. Since then, the message has become pretty garbled.
Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1). If you know that to be true, but you are having a hard time seeing just exactly what the right times and activities are, maybe it’s time you let God transform you into His domain.