There is always talk of “bumps” in the pre-election season: Did this or that candidate get a “bump” in the polls from his party’s convention or a debate performance?
The interesting thing is the evanescence of bumps. When I heard Mitt Romney’s story of his five boys jumping on their parents’ bed in the morning, I thought the election was in the bag for the Republicans. When I later saw Bill Clinton’s strange alchemy in action at the Democratic convention, I thought the bump it was bound to yield would be insurmountable for the other side.
The fickleness of humanity has ever been noted. Shakespeare weighed in on the bump phenomenon in Julius Caesar.In the very opening of the play he vents his disdain through the mouths of two Roman tribunes, Flavius and Murellus, who disgustedly call the plebians “you blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things.” Later in the play, Mark Antony will deftly turn an anti-Caesar mob 180 degrees into an anti-Brutus and Cassius mob, with nothing more than rhetoric.
The power of words wears off with a half-life like mercury. They pierce in the moment, but something in time itself brings a diminishing of effect. Christians return from a retreat all fired up to make big changes in their lives, and often it doesn’t last the week. It’s almost comical to read of a 2,600-year-old precedent in Jewish history:
“… King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to make a proclamation of liberty to them, that everyone should set free his Hebrew slaves, male and female, so that no one should enslave a Jew. … And they obeyed … and set them free. But afterward they turned around and took back the male and female slaves they had set free …” (Jeremiah 34:8-11).
If people get a temporary “bump” from God’s Word to do good, and then it peters away, the problem is not with God’s Word but with something in the person. Once the seed of the Word is planted, rooting and establishing are crucial (Romans 1:11; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 2:7) for its growth. Remember the seed in Jesus’ parable that withers in the heat or is choked out. Daily devotion to the Word—and immediate practice of what we hear— will keep a bump from becoming a slow leak.