Have You Tried Turning it Off and On Again?

— Andy Wade —

it.crowdSequestered deep in the bowels of the basement, far away from the “normal people” in the corporate tower above, the IT Crowd trouble-shoots the many computer related problems that plague their distant work associates. As is often the case, most of these problems can be solved by one simple act.

The IT Crowd is one of my favourite British sitcoms. “Quirky” would be an understatement. It not only captures well the woes of the computer nerd but also the silliness of situations we often find ourselves in. All too frequently those situations arise because of the ruts we get stuck in. We slip into these ruts with ease and then keep trudging along, knowing we should do something differently, but continuing on all the same.

What we need is a re-boot.

About once every week my cell phone company sends me a text message reminding me that my phone will run faster if I turn it off and on again. Apparently just leaving your phone on, running day after day, night after night, is not a good thing. For it to run at its best it needs to be rebooted.  The season of Lent, for me, is a kind of spiritual re-boot. During Lent we’re invited to intentionally slow down, refocus, evaluate, and really allow God to do a bit of maintenance, a bit of de-bugging, a bit of virus removal on our souls.

Lent is a great annual reminder that we need a regular spiritual reboot. But I think my phone company is on to something, something God actually set in motion at the beginning of creation; we need a weekly reboot. Sabbath is the practice of “turning life off and on again”. Not so much about “rest”, but re-set. Sabbath causes us to stop what we’re doing and discover, and give thanks for, God’s creative and sustaining activity in the pat week. This kind of intentional re-focusing can renew hearts and emotions run down by constantly running on.

Sabbath was God’s gift to all creation – a gift to stop. Every seventh day–to stop. Every seventh year–to stop. Every seven times seven years–to stop. And then to follow that 49th Sabbath year with a year of Jubilee – a total rebooting of lives and the economy.

Over time, whether a week, a year, seven years, or 49 years, we accumulate attitudes, habits, and assumptions that drain joy, celebration, and energy from our lives and the lives of others. A Sabbath re-boot helps to clear out that short-term memory, all those background applications that are running needlessly. The Season of Lent is, for me, another opportunity to stop and re-boot.

What does this look like for you? How do you conduct a spiritual re-boot?

Although Lent is still a month away, here at Mustard Seed Associates we’re already preparing. I’m looking forward to our Journey into Wholeness retreat and blog series with posts from many collaborators. I’m looking forward to exploring together as a team the new book by the same name.

It used to be that Lent was more of a private journey for me. But over the years I’ve begun to appreciate how important it is to walk this journey together. You see, it turns out we’re not a bunch of individual computers that can simply be turned off and on again. There’s something embedded in our humanness that causes us to quickly revert back to the old operating system with all its old viruses and bugs. It turns out that we need to walk this journey together because others can see what we fail to see… refuse to see… that all we really did was turn the system off and on again, but nothing actually changed.

  • So how do you conduct a spiritual re-boot?
  • Who do you invite to be a part of your process of re-booting?
  • How do you ensure that the “system” is working effectively again?

Christine has written some very helpful primers for Lent over at Godspace including: Daily Reading Plans for Lent and Taking up the $2 challenge along with some great ideas how to use our new Lenten Prayer Cards