Monday, January 23, 2017

CTRL + ALT + DELETE for Everyday Life

Recently I came across a computer-related thought from a friend. It gave me the germ of an idea, so I decided to pass it along. (No worries – it’s a good germ.)

The procedure differs for PCs and Macs, but we all
need to 'Force Quit' from time to time.
Are you familiar with CTRL+ALT+DELETE? If you use a PC, you probably know this combination of keys will “Force Quit” programs that freeze up and become inoperable. Some things are good frozen – like ice cream, popsicles, snow and ice rinks. But computer programs? Nope. So, if you’re on a PC and get stuck in the middle of something you’re working on, it’s CTRL+ALT+DELETE to the rescue.

Sometimes life is like that. We get stuck, can’t make any progress – even start to regress – and realize it might be time to “Force Quit” to get things moving again. Except everyday life doesn’t allow for us to hit CTRL+ALT+DELETE. Or does it?

Expanding on a few points from my friend, maybe we can adapt “Force Quit” protocol for getting our lives righted when things seem upside-down. Here are some suggested steps, along with supportive insights from the Scriptures:

1. Control yourself. There’s much in life we can’t control. It just comes at us, whether we’re ready for it or not. But we can take responsibility for our thoughts and actions – having free will, we can think and do as we choose. For instance, Romans 6:11 declares, “…count (consider, reckon) yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” And Romans 12:2 instructs, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We can’t control much – except ourselves.

2. Look for Alternative solutions. Remember comedian Flip Wilson’s character, Geraldine, who went around telling people, “The devil made me do it”? The Scriptures teach the devil can certainly suggest and entice, but can’t make followers of Jesus submit to sinful impulses. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13). The way out – the way of escape – is always the best alternative.

3. Delete situations you shouldn't be in. If we find ourselves in a dangerous environment, about to get caught up in circumstances that would threaten our principles and values, or even realize relationships are dragging us in an undesirable direction, the best course of action is probably to leave – eliminate negative influences trying to pull us down. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). In another letter to his young protégé, the apostle Paul warned him on matters such as false teaching and avoiding greed, urging him instead to strive for contentment. Paul advised, “flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).

There’s one more step that frequently works with computers – and could help in realigning our lives as well: Refresh. Sometimes all that’s needed is to shut down briefly, maybe for a few minutes, an hour, or even a day or two. Step back, re-evaluate, and make a fresh start. “Repent, then, and turn back, that your sins may be wiped away, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:20). Even if we don’t believe we’ve fallen into wrongdoing, calling a “timeout” could be the wisest course of action: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7).

In our impatience, along with the headstrong conviction that “I can do this!”, being still and waiting patiently might be the last thing we’re inclined to do. That’s true for me. But at times in Jesus’ earthly ministry, He would withdraw to pray, and temporarily escape the clamor and demands confronting Him. If even Jesus needed to take a break once in a while, it certainly must be good enough for us.

Are you feeling stuck, or thinking things are going awry? It might be time to hit the CTRL+ALT+DELETE keys in your life – and if needed, Refresh.

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