In Need of a System Reset?
by Virginia Forste
“I don’t even know why I did that!”
Have you ever uttered those words in disbelief? You threw out an insult unknowingly; you reacted in anger a bit too harshly; you made a misguided midnight Amazon purchase. These faux pas can be humorous. (Did you really need that glow-in-the-dark umbrella holder?) They can also be embarrassing. (“When I said there’s more of you to love, I meant, uh, I just love you so much, honey, um . . .”)
Why do we misbehave, even according to our own standards? It’s so frustrating and can seem so mysterious.
Imperfect people everywhere can relate to the apostle Paul’s admission in Romans 7:15: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (NIV).
Further down the passage, Paul goes on to identify that sin is the cause of an easy fall into temptation: “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Romans 7:17, 18, NIV).
Me too, Paul. Me too.
Recently, Focus on the Family’s “Family Minute” featured educator and author Dr. Kathy Koch. One of Dr. Koch’s quotes deeply resonated with me: “Identity dictates behavior.” That’s it! That’s why we do not do what we should do or do what we know we shouldn’t do. If our behavior is guided by our identity, are we identifying with sin? Or are we identifying ourselves as Christ followers? We will cultivate a life—one way or the other—from our identities.
How do we reconnect to the Original Manufacturer’s packaging and reset the system? When my phone or computer is running slow, I employ the classic “turn off and then turn it on again” move. But how do we do that in our spiritual lives?
We may not be intentionally neglecting to stoke our spiritual fires but we can get distracted, stressed, and bogged down when we listen to every voice out there shouting for our attention. There’s a reason why I see my friends frequently taking a break from Facebook and Instagram. They are saying that there is a need to reset their mental and emotional state.
Pull the Plug
I love everything about the word “sabbatical.” According to the Oxford Dictionary, a sabbatical is defined as: “A period of paid leave granted to a university teacher or other worker for study or travel, traditionally one year for every seven years worked.” As a mom, that’s a principle I can get behind! My oldest son is almost seven years old so I am certainly due for one year off quite soon.
Sabbaticals are great for professors but they’re not quite realistic for everyday folks. However, the principle is the same. We need regular breaks. Jesus only worked three years in ministry and even he took regular breaks.
His disciples always thought they knew what was best for him and told him so frequently. For instance . . .
“Jesus it’s really late. Send these folks away.”—The disciples, before the feeding of the five thousand (Mark 6:35,36).
“Jesus, what a waste of perfume!”—Judas, when Mary anointed Jesus (John 12:4).
“Jesus, I’ll never betray you!”—Peter, before betraying Jesus (Matthew 26:33).
Even the men Jesus chose to befriend and guide were often voices that did not align with his Father’s will. He knew and demonstrated how important rest and reconnection with his Father was, as well as shutting out those voices that—bless their hearts—did not have his eternal perspective.
Control + Alt + Delete
We tend to make poor decisions when we’re not securely grounded in our identity in Christ. How can we share the Good News if we’ve forgotten what the Capital N News is?
The Good News is that if we’ve accepted Christ and declared his leadership in our lives, we’re not ignorant, dirty, sinful, worrisome, obnoxious bits of scum. We’re known, clean, righteous, peaceful children of God! The best part of that news is that it is a gift. We didn’t earn it, but we must receive it. And we must keep receiving it daily.
If I am securely rooted in who God says I am, I can make choices that reflect and spread God’s goodness and his good news. God says we are:
- A new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)
- Heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17, NIV)
- Not condemned (Romans 8:1, NIV)
- Children of God (John 1:12, NIV)
- Connected to God (John 15:5, NIV)
- A vessel for God (Galatians 2:20, NIV)
- A citizen of Heaven (Philippians 3:20, NIV)
- A member of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27, NIV)
- Chosen by God (Colossians 3:12, NIV)
- Forgiven by God (Ephesians 1:7, NIV)
- More than conquerors (Romans 8:37, NIV)
- God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16, NIV)
- Holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4, NIV)
- Purchased by God through Jesus’ blood (1 Corinthians 6:20, NIV)
Yesterday our lead pastor Trevor challenged each of us to pray for God to “Search Me. Break Me. Send Me.” Which of these three directives do you find most challenging? If you truly know who you are and whose you are, why not hit the reset button and spend time with Jesus, allowing his power to dictate your decisions this week? This proactive approach is much better than the reactive statement, “I don’t even know why I did that!” And this kind of resetting the system was designed by the Original Manufacturer for your benefit. I challenge you to do something about it today.
Virginia Forste is a former elementary education teacher and stay-at-home mom who frequently blogs with other moms at textingthetruth.com.