Switch Off the Autopilot
The human brain is a strange and wonderful thing. Does your brain ever switch over to autopilot? Mine does.
There have been times when I’ve driven home from work and not really remembered the journey. I got there safely, but I didn’t remember most of the roads and turns I had to take to get there.
My morning routine is the same way. I’m convinced that I don’t fully wake up until about 15 minutes after I’ve showered. Up to that point, my brain is on autopilot instructing my body to perform my morning routine without me being fully aware of it. If my toothpaste or shampoo is not in its usual place, watch out! I’ve reached for the shampoo and squeezed shower gel or shaving cream into my hair on more than one occasion.
This phenomenon has never really bothered me until recently. One day during a chapel service it suddenly dawned on me that often I’m in autopilot mode in my spiritual life as well.
During the chapel service, the speaker showed a short video. It was the story of a needy family in Cambodia. That’s really all I can tell you about the video because that’s all I remember. I remember the lights going out, and I remember the video beginning. I guess my mind wandered far away because I don’t recall anything else until the lights came up at the end of the video and I suddenly realized that I was clapping my hands along with the rest of the audience.
How did that happen? I didn’t even remember the video ending, much less engaging my brain and instructing my hands to respond with applause. As I looked down in mid-clap I realized that I had been on autopilot again, simply going through the motions. To the casual observer, it looked like I had watched the video and enjoyed it with the rest of the crowd, but I had actually missed the whole thing.
The incident made me wonder how often I approach my relationship with Christ the same way, functioning solely on autopilot.
Read my Bible today? Check.
Attend church this week? Check.
As I go through the motions of my Christian walk, am I really tuned in to the experience? Am I really listening to what God has to say to me each day? Or am I simply showing up and then moving on as I cross that day’s prayer time or church service off my to-do list?
Running on autopilot can be dangerous. In a morning routine, it may be only a slight irritation. When it comes to driving it’s definitely not recommended, but in our spiritual lives it can cause even bigger problems. If I’m not engaged enough to hear what God wants to tell me, how can I know I’m doing His will? I can’t grow closer to Him, or become more like Him, if I’m simply going through the motions.
In a recent Bible study at my church we discussed how God often uses storms in our lives to wake us up and get our attention. Often it isn’t until something interrupts our tranquil world and brings us to the end of ourselves and our comfortable routines that we fully engage in our relationship with God. During a video segment (which I did actually watch!) author Henry Blackaby pointed out that often God uses storms to speak to us because we haven’t gotten the message any other way.
That’s why running our spiritual lives on autopilot is so dangerous. Not only are we missing out on deeper levels of intimacy with Christ, but if we aren’t getting His message, God will find another (and probably less pleasant) way to get our attention.
The video I missed during our chapel service was my wake up call. From now on I want to be fully engaged in all aspects of my spiritual life. I don’t want to wait for God to take more drastic measures to get my attention.
What about you? Has your spiritual life become more of a series of routines than a vibrant and growing relationship with Christ? If so, switch off your autopilot and get ready for a fresh encounter with our Savior.
“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14 (ESV)
By: John UpChurch, crosswalk.com
Four crumbling stairs leading up the hill from the rock-encrusted sidewalk—that’s all that’s left. If you drove by today, you wouldn’t know that I once smashed honey bees on the driveway with a shovel, or that I did so barefooted until one got a squishy revenge. You also wouldn’t know about the loft in the garage where my brothers would hide away or the window in my room that thieves peeked through before they stole our bikes. You’d never see the stairs leading out the back door where my mom would sit while we brought her giant grasshoppers to examine or plums from the fruit trees.
You see, I had this idea that one day, when I got the chance, I’d take my wife and girls to Marion, Alabama. I’d show them the house where I spent the first five years of my life, regaling them with stories about the giant heating grate in the middle of the hall that my brother used as a bathroom while sleepwalking, and the stove fire that sent my dad to the hospital, and the small square pond with goldfish that our landlady’s cat loved to eat.
But I can’t—at least, not the way I intended. My oldest brother dashed this plan by posting a Google Street View image. The two neighboring houses still stand. Ours is gone. Completely. Considering the size of the trees that now play the stand-in role, I’m guessing the house disappeared years ago (given our experience with electrical issues there, probably in a blaze of glory).
I’ve been told by movies and books that I can’t go home again, and this sad image of an empty lot does make a pretty good case for that. But that house—no matter the memories of watching PBS in the living room or music blaring from my brothers’ stereo—that house was never my home, not really. Nor is the house where I spent most of my youth, nor is the place I live now.
Seeing an empty lot reminded me how easily the things here on earth disappear. One moment you’re settling into a comfortable Alabama life; the next you’re suddenly uprooted for Tennessee. And when you look back, all that’s left is in your head.
“The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him … if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:11-13 ESV
Paul used a maxim to remind Timothy of Christian basics and principles essential to remember. These weren’t theories. Paul knew they were true, for he had applied them himself.
He alerted Timothy that he could expect a variety of problems. But, like a good soldier, he needed to carry out his assignments, regardless of the opposition.
It was important to maintain an eternal perspective. That meant staying focused, always living for Jesus, seeking first His Kingdom, and serving Him, regardless of how others might react. Don’t be sidetracked by any temporary opposition.
We are to focus like champion athletes competing at the highest level. We are to fight to win the spiritual warfare, battling like expert soldiers. We are to be diligent and committed to results, just like a “hard-working farmer” (v. 6). With a spirit of relentless determination, we always must persevere, remembering, “if we endure, we will also reign with him.”
This commitment may require sacrifices. But we will be rewarded for our faithfulness and obedience. Providing an alternate perspective, Paul reminded Timothy, “If we deny him, he also will deny us” (v. 12). But the fact is that Jesus Himself is faithful. We may fall short or make mistakes, but He cannot change. He always remains faithful.
In your life, remember these principles. Be persistent. Endure and be confident in God. Focus on your assignments. Dedicate your life to the Gospel.
The way of salvation
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 12
What a great word that word ‘salvation’ is! It includes the cleansing of our conscience from all past guilt, the delivery of our soul from all those propensities to evil which now so strongly predominate in us; it takes in, in fact, the undoing of all that Adam did. Salvation is the total restoration of man from his fallen estate; and yet it is something more than that, for God’s salvation fixes our standing more secure than it was before we fell. It finds us broken in pieces by the sin of our first parent, defiled, stained, accursed: it first heals our wounds, it removes our diseases, it takes away our curse, it puts our feet upon the rock Christ Jesus, and having thus done, at last it lifts our heads far above all principalities and powers, to be crowned for ever with Jesus Christ, the King of heaven. Some people, when they use the word ‘salvation,’ understand nothing more by it than deliverance from hell and admittance into heaven. Now, that is not salvation: those two things are the effects of salvation. We are redeemed from hell because we are saved, and we enter heaven because we have been saved beforehand. Our everlasting state is the effect of salvation in this life. Salvation, it is true, includes all that, because salvation is the mother of it, and carries it within its bowels; but still it would be wrong for us to imagine that is the whole meaning of the word. Salvation begins with us as wandering sheep, it follows us through all our confused wanderings; it puts us on the shoulders of the shepherd; it carries us into the fold; it calls together the friends and the neighbours; it rejoices over us; it preserves us in that fold through life; and then at last it brings us to the green pastures of heaven, beside the still waters of bliss, where we lie down for ever, in the presence of the Chief Shepherd, never more to be disturbed.
For meditation: Past salvation from sin’s penalty (justification): present salvation from sin’s power (sanctification): prospective salvation from sin’s presence (glorification)—what a great salvation (Hebrews 2:3). Don’t miss it.