Have you ever had some piece of electronic equipment quit working?
I have an electronic piano in my office at the church that I use to play through the songs we use in our worship service each week and make sure I have everything planned out smoothly. I’ve had this particular piece of equipment for over ten years, which means that it’s pretty obsolete as these things go, but I like it. It’s easy to use, it sounds good, and – most importantly – replacing it costs a lot more than I want to spend. So, I think I’ll keep it around.
That doesn’t mean that I never have problems with it. This afternoon, as I was playing through a song I’m considering having the choir sing, the nice piano tone that I was using suddenly transformed into an odd, distorted electric guitar sound. I don’t know what caused it – I certainly didn’t tell it to do that – and I couldn’t figure out how to make it go back to the piano sound I wanted. So, what did I do?
I did what you always do in situations where electronics quit working correctly and you don’t know what else to do: I turned it off, then turned it back on again. And, lo and behold, my piano sound was back, just as if nothing had ever happened.
Have you ever wondered why that old trick works? What is it about turning something off and back on that magically makes problems disappear?
Most of the electronic gadgets that we use are based on computers. My electronic piano has a computer inside it that controls everything it does, from which sound is played to the pitch of the notes to the volume that comes out of the speakers. As a computer works, it manipulates massive amounts of data in order to figure out what it’s supposed to be doing.
Sometimes, as a by-product of all of that manipulation, little bits of data get out of place. Eventually all of those little bits of random information pile up so high that the computer just can’t work around them any more. All of that junk needs to be cleaned out before the computer can work the way it’s supposed to.
That’s where a reboot comes in – by turning it off and then back on, everything gets put back where it’s supposed to go and the computer gets to start over again from square one.
That reminds me of Isaiah 43:18-19:
Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness.
Do not dwell on the past. Easier said than done! One of the enemy’s most powerful tools to use against us is our own memory – he dredges up things that we have done, holds them in front of us, and taunts us with them. See, you’ll never live up to what God wants you to be! Look at who you have always been before! Why even bother?
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul reminds us:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!
I’m convinced that one of the biggest challenges we face in our walk with God is to trust Him not only with our future, but with our past. He has power over the things that have already happened in our lives, and He wants us to allow Him to move us past those things and into the glorious things He has planned for our future.
God offers to us a chance to reboot, to clean out all of the junk that has accumulated in our lives over the years – the regrets, the shame, the guilt, the defeats – and to start fresh with Him. This is an ongoing promise – Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us that God’s love and mercy are new every morning! Every single day is a new chance to devote ourselves fully, and unreservedly, to Him, without the clutter of our past mistakes getting in our way.
So, let’s learn something from our electronics. When we’re too burdened by our past to be able to push on into the future, it’s time to reboot!