Sunday, November 24, 2013
Default or Design - which are you living by?
If you have ever stopped to consider how your life is going, you might just come to the conclusion of having been living by default rather than by any particular design. When you buy a new electronic device, there is a "factory preset" for how the system should work. It is called the "default" operating system. As time goes on and you become more familiar with what the device can actually do when it gets off the "default" mode, you might actually find you can do some pretty handy things with the device. "Default" is only a beginning spot - it isn't where we are designed to live. When we settle for "default", we negate the purpose of being created with the various abilities God has worked into our temperament and character. In truth, whenever we settle for living in the "default" mode, we are simply saying we are content with someone other than us designing how we should live and respond - kind of like following a script. From the beginning of time, God's intent has been for us to live by "design" rather than "default" - this is why he gave us the right to make choices. We have a free-will - how much we choose to use our free-will to move closer to him, or further away from him is all up to us.
By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by your righteous order. Everything’s falling apart on me, God; put me together again with your Word. Festoon me with your finest sayings, God; teach me your holy rules. (Psalm 119:105-108 MSG)
To define this a little better, allow me a little creative latitude here, please. Each of us is created with a "default" operating system - body, soul, and spirit. The body is animated by the spirit, the soul is what gives us the uniqueness of connection with one another. The body gives a framework - the soul is what allows us to rationalize, make choices, and respond with any range of emotions. The spirit is the place where we either embrace a closeness with God as our Lord and Savior, or we live with a void here. By default, we have this void - the place of connection. We either "fill the slot" with him, or we fill it with whatever seems to matter MORE than him. By default, we are empty in this space - by choice the space is filled. Oftentimes, the choices we make kind of "override" the intentions of our heart. We might think we will get to the place we desire in our heart, but the choices we make don't actually make it possible for us to actually see those desires met in the manner God intended for us.
God grants good sense to all of us - it is a choice to use it! So many times, I hear people tell me they don't know what God's will is for their lives. I have to go back to the "owner's manual" to help them frame their understanding of what God's will actually is. God's will is becomes clear when we understand the three parts of our "default operating system" and see how they are interrelated. When we do something which will not benefit our body, it is not going to provide a good framework for our soul or spirit any longer - so it is likely not God's will. When we want to embrace things which will fill our minds with confusion, challenge the things we know to be true, or allow idleness in our thought processes, this is definitely not going to benefit either our body or soul. If we choose to fill the place where God's Spirit desires to be "plugged in" within us with anything other than his Spirit, we will fall short of being animated as he would desire.
Something I learned much earlier in my life is the power of asking the right questions. You can go through life asking questions, but if they aren't the right ones, you tend to lean toward the "default" answers. When we begin to ask the right questions, such as "How will this impact my relationship with ..." or perhaps "What will this decision cost me in time which I should be directing into my relationship with Jesus", then we are going to find a different set of answers to help us live by design, not default. It is amazing to see how the right questions produce different outcomes than questions which are superficial or just don't really require any effort to answer. When I was taking algebra in junior high school, I would always hear my teacher ask, "Yes, you have the right answer, but how did you get to that answer?" This may not seem significant on the surface, but what he was repeatedly asking us was to form the right sequence of thought which consistently produced the right answer. Often, we "got to" the right answer, but in the next set of problems we would be given, using that same "train of thought" would not produce the same results. Why? We weren't asking the right questions to help us consistently solve for "x".
One good question to keep in mind as we go through life is whether this current decision you are faced with is congruent with God's "design" for your life. If you have never asked God to reveal his "design" and have always just been content to live by "default", you might be surprised what you will learn if you actually stop long enough to consider his design. Living by default allows us to have moments of indiscretion - times when we choose to go one way, because we think we will get the same results with our choice as we got the last time. When we are not clear as to what God's plan is for our lives, we tend to make a lot of attempts at "solving for x" in our lives, but never quite doing it with any consistency. We end up living by "trial and error". I don't know about you, but "trial" and "error" are two "defaults" I am trying to avoid! We have been given the "owner's manual" (the Bible) to help guide our choices. As long as we follow the principles displayed there, solving for "x" in life is much more consistent!
Remember this - you don't need to understand how the whole "system" works to understand there is opportunity to live a "customized" life. "Customized" doesn't mean we do the choosing and hope for the best. In fact, the best customization comes when we have a skilled craftsman actually helping us to understand the best use of what it is we have at our disposal. Just sayin!