December 13: Why We Need to Shut Down
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Let’s stay with the crew of Apollo 13 and their mission to survive. We’ve looked at their story as an illustration of repentance as course correction. But we said there was something else needed to get them home that could shed some Advent light for us. What is it?
When their oxygen tank exploded, it didn’t just affect their trajectory, it also affected their systems. Their broken systems were draining too much power and threatening their life support.
In order to survive to reentry, the three astronauts would have to shut down the computer and electrical systems, then figure out how to resequence them to power back up. If they didn’t, they would run out of power before they made it back to Earth.
What does all this have to do with Advent? Well, if Advent is a season of repentance, part of that process is looking at what systems are threatening our life support, and then shutting them down.
And I’d argue the system that most threatens our life support as believers is fear.
I’ve noticed that so many Christians are drained by fear. Some of the most fearful people I know are Christians. Not a prayer request session goes by without someone sharing a fear of what the world is coming to.
I’m not trying to minimize the fact that when we look at the news, there’s a lot to cause anxiety, but aren’t we the people Jesus explicitly told to not be afraid? Like with Eve in Eden and Jesus in the wilderness, the enemy plants seeds of doubt: “Did God really say that?” (see Genesis 3:1 and Matthew 4:1–11).
But the brokenness of fear drains our life support, threatening our very love and joy and peace and patience and gentleness. Fear drains us, causing us to either attack or self-medicate. This leaves us with anger at what’s happening around us, hatred of people different than us, and ultimately the suffering of our lives and souls, and those of others.
Fear is a broken system that needs to be shut down and resequenced. What are the fear systems draining your life support, and how do they do it? For me, it can look like spending five minutes in prayer, but three hours in cable news, social media, and talk radio.
What would shutting that down and resequencing look like? And how would it affect the life support of my soul?
Advent is all about the mission, and the mission needs power. Maybe shutting down is really the way to power up. I’ll let the psalmist have the last word today:
Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:
See how he brings destruction upon the world.
He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.” (Ps. 46:8–10)
But as we’ll see next, there’s more to resequencing than shutting down.
Christ was born. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again!