“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” -Isaiah 55:8 and 9 (NIV)
Are you ready for a car that can drive itself? So far Tesla’s cars have driven over 140 million miles on autopilot. Ford promises to put thousands of robocars on the road by 2021. Mercedes-Benz and General Motors are working on it too along with Google.
Now the idea is that the cars drive themselves while the driver is alert, but plenty of evidence on YouTube indicates otherwise. “Drivers” have been found in the backseat taking naps. Of course now there is a rush to create more rules and safety features, but ultimately autopilot is on its way for all of us.
The Thrill is Gone
Having a car drive itself is the exact opposite of the rush of the NASCAR race track. A superstar driver in control, maneuvering at high speeds. It’s foreign to the thrill of getting the keys for the first time at age 16. It doesn’t fit with the romantic image of a couple driving a cool car with the top down into the sunset.
Sure, most of us will adapt to autopilot because of its simplicity. We’ll be timid at first, cautiously alert to anything this newfangled contraption might miss. Eventually we’ll relax in the front seat and watch videos on our phones. On long trips we’ll drift off to sleep or catch a bit of a movie playing on the IPad.
In the quest for safety and ease, autopilot will remove the need for skills and thinking. No more conquering the road, much less any adventure.
In a word autopilot is boring.
The same is true of the Christian life. When we come to faith it is a spiritual high. A thrill not unlike that of a race car driver… though much more significant. Our life is changed from the inside out. We feel different. We are different. For some people bad habits immediately slip away. There is a hunger for God’s Word and fellowship. Life changes dramatically. A newfound boldness oozes from us because we’ve experienced something new and we want that same life for others.
Over time the newness fades.
The hardest part of being a Christian for a length of time is avoiding auto pilot. Instead of relationship and being in love with Christ, it’s easier to live the “Christian-y way.” We get set in our ways. We have our church and our Christian friends. We go to certain places. We talk a certain way. There are things we don’t do. It’s safe. It’s comfortable.
When you live in autopilot you don’t expect God to show up. Sure, He fits in that devotional window or one-hour Sunday morning window. Life with Christ is predictably boring. It’s easy.
It’s easier still to judge those not living on autopilot for their otherness. That expensive missions trip. His visits to the bar. Her strange story about an experience with the Holy Spirit. That friend who hangs out with the too needy, socially awkward people. The mama who has five little ones hanging around at all times.
These are race car thrills… messy, crazy leaps of faith. Lives and lifestyles we don’t understand. They can be annoying. They can be 100% different than the thrills we could have, but they are bold and free of autopilot nap-inducing predictability.
When we signed up to be Christians we signed up for our lives to be invaded… and invasion is never boring.
From Autopilot to Disillusionment
In the autopilot life we are set on things being a certain way. Everything in its place. When that does not happen, we become angry at God. God does not meet our expectations. This leads to disillusionment.
God, see what I did for you?
God, see the bad stuff I don’t do?
You aren’t treating me right, God!
I didn’t sign up for pain!
Some who expected things to be easy, simply walk away from all things Christian. Others struggle with life-long bitterness. Still others muddle through and just wait around for things to get better in Heaven.
Our idea of easy Christianity is a caricature, not based on reality. The Lord wants us to be willing to take risks. To join Him where He is working. He does not desire us to be have things “just so.” When our comfort becomes our god, He often allows pain to wake us from the boring autopilot life and remind us of our need for Him. The Real God.
I don’t know what crazy thoughts have come to mind that you have pushed down because they “weren’t you” but perhaps they were the Holy Spirit leading. Try it!
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” -Isaiah 6:8
Are you allowing pain to bring you back into the adventure or are you becoming disillusioned? Do you believe God has adventures for You today?