With the complications of today’s technology and faulty softwares it seems more and more gadgets come with a reset button. My computer has a reset button. My Nintendo Wii has a reset button. My iPhone even has a sequence of button presses to reset it. Alternatively, I can reboot it and hopefully it just works better. When I left ministry a few years ago and took my computer training, I loved the fact that computers had a reset button. I loved the fact that if my operating system was not working properly I could wipe the hard drive and start over with a clean slate. Working with people can at times get messy. And for that, there’s no reset button that I’ve found yet.
In the recent past, I’ve begun to see that there is one aspect of Christianity that we treat as through it were a reset button…the cross.
Let me explain. For years whenever I sinned I would go to the cross. That’s what I was taught to do. You take your sins to the cross and you leave them with Jesus because He paid for them. Unfortunately I had a nasty bad habit of lingering around the cross. I would take my sins to the cross and in a humble act of repentance I would sit under the weight of them for a while. What ultimately ended up happening is that I would feel so horrible about my failure that the cross became like a reset button for me. Instead of actually making progress in a life of holiness, I ended up trying to hit the reset button wiping out any progress in my journey with Christ and starting over every time because of the shame and weight of sin that I was never meant to carry.
If you’ve ever watched Groundhog Day, you get an idea of how depressing this can be to a person. If I remember correctly Bill Murray gets stuck in a repeating time-cycle that he will do almost anything to get out of, even killing himself. It’s depressing! Who wants to live like that? Unfortunately it’s a pattern many of us have learned over the years.
I thank God that He delivered me from this faulty mindset and showed me a better way. The beauty of grace is that it allows us to pick up with God where we left off. We may have messed up, we may have caused a mess, but the truth is that according to grace my mess has been removed as far as the east is from the west. I think repentance and confession are good for the soul, but if I let shame and the weight of sin linger in my life I am trespassing on illegal ground…the past. If I stay there, I am tempted to push the reset button every time.
I’ve learned most of the time to continue in my journey with God from where I left off. When I sin or make a mess, I have to clean it up as best I can and keep moving forward knowing that God is pleased with me even though I messed up. King David messed up big time and still managed to keep moving forward with God. Naturally there were some consequences, but He didn’t let that stop him (even under a system of rules that didn’t leave much wiggle room). We have to know who we are as sons and daughters of the living God and learn to stop trying to earn His trust. He’s our Papa and He loves us very very much.
So…life is process. When I was a kid (ok…I’m still a kid) I learned playing video games that there was one sure way to beat the game. All you had to do was start over and over and over and eventually you got good enough to pass all the levels in sequence and save the princess. Then they came along with the option of being able to save your game along the way, so you didn’t have to go all the way back to the beginning. There were some consequences like losing a life or losing some special power as a result of falling into the burning lava, but you no longer had to start all over again! Video games taught me about process. Yes there were also cheat modes and cheat codes, but using them only served to weaken the satisfaction of defeating the big bad dude at the end of the game.
So back to my stream of thought…life is process. There is a process to everything. We love the “instant” in our society and tend to get impatient and frustrated with process. We want the same “instant” in God’s Kingdom. Instant deliverance. Instant healing. Instant faith. Instant answers to prayer. Occasionally that happens but most of the time it’s a process. Even an instant healing is a process. To the person praying for the healing it’s instant, but for the person receiving the healing it’s been a process, often of many years dealing with the affliction (for which I’m sure they love a reset option). If we are going to experience all that God has for us we’ve got to learn to embrace process and resist the temptation to hit the reset button.
One last illustration. Often when your computer appears to be “frozen” or stuck, it is doing something called “processing”. It has been fed some enormous amount of data and is working to deal with that data before it is able to do what you want it to do. If you have the patience to wait it out, often your computer will start responding again and work normally. Processing usually takes time. What do you usually do when your computer hasn’t responded for more than 5 minutes? Yep…reset!
For my part, I have chosen to embrace the journey and put my trust daily in my heavenly Papa. He’s got my back. I may make some mistakes along the way, but if I resist from resetting my relationship with God every time I flounder I might just learn something that helps me to rise above and walk with a greater “God-stride” in my step.