Ahh, the good old days of green-screened Gameboys and heavily-pixellated Oregon Trail computer games. We’ve come a long way since the ’90s, friends. I have been blessed to own several nice electronics over the years – laptops, cell phones, e-readers, etc. Since shelling out hundreds of dollars on a vaguely “faster” new phone with more power than NASA needed to land on the moon is not my style!, most of them have been refurbished models, that is, items that were previously owned but have been restored to factory settings so someone else can now use them. Restoring to factory settings like this (also called a master reset) is also a common fix for electronics that are running poorly or have been infected with a virus.
When I’m feeling low, I inevitably reach for something new – a book, a song, a fresh lipstick, something different to distract me. Or I long uselessly for different circumstances, a fresh start, a new opportunity. And as much as I love the idea of a God who makes all things new, it’s a little astonishing to realize that He’s also in the refurb business – repairing me instead of giving me something new.
God created humans with three parts: a body, a soul, and a spirit. My spirit, made alive through His salvation, is my point of contact with His Spirit. My body (or flesh), however, is stuck in its current corruptible nature until I die. What is left hanging in the middle is my soul. The soul is, essentially, my cognizance, my humanity, the part of me that lives and thinks and feels. The Bible often uses the word soul in the same manner as heart or mind. And my soul is the battlefield for an ongoing civil war – on the one side, my regenerated spirit wants to live for God, and on the other side, my sinful flesh wants literally anything but that. (See Romans 7:18-25.)
Like a computer that’s long past due for an overhaul, my soul will occasionally start running erratically. Sometimes I sit down to have my time with God, but I can’t focus my attention. I get angry at stupid things. I get passive about zealously guarding my eyes and my heart and I start feeling depressed and discontent. And there are a lot of factors affecting the performance of my soul.
- Input. This is influence from the “outside”, and it’s the easiest thing to monitor. Who am I hanging with? What am I seeing, negative, positive, or “neutral”, portrayed in the media, in ads, in books, on the internet? What am I allowing into my heart and my mind that are slowing up the circuits here? There is plenty of input I can prevent altogether, but usually the problem is that I’m not “casting out” the excess (Matthew 15:17-18); I’m trying to hang on to too much emotional or intellectual clutter that isn’t adding to my spiritual life.
- Processes. There’s nothing wrong with an active or an imaginative mind. It’s a tremendous asset. But when I start dwelling on shady things, when I allow certain thoughts or memories free movement in my brain, or when I allow my corrupt flesh to determine what takes priority right now, I am asking for a “virus”. It’s challenging, but there’s no room for passiveness here. I must be on guard about where I allow my mind to go. (II Corinthians 10:4-5)
- Background applications. This is my subconscious, and it’s the most difficult area to control. It’s also the most difficult to understand; some people write it off as psychobabble and irrelevant, and others use it as a crutch or an excuse for failing to live in the fullness of Christ. Truthfully, I can’t change my past experiences, my genetics, or much of my environment, but those things deeply affect my soul. Maybe you grew up in an abusive situation. Maybe you’re genetically predisposed to clinical depression. Maybe your job or familial responsibilities are silently pushing you to despair, and they’re not things you can just walk away from. You’re stuck with “old features” and there is no “new model” available to you. (Psalm 88:15-17)
Enter the Master reset in Psalm 23:3. “He restoreth my soul.” He restores my heart and mind to His intended settings, and all the crazy things that have cluttered up my operating system become irrelevant. Everything this world has installed in me, everything my experience has bogged me down with, is deleted to make room for new things. When I allow Him to restore my soul, I can:
- Run faster and more consistently without garbage clogging up my memory. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31
- Allow room for Him to install significantly more powerful software – the transformation of a renewed mind. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:2
- Obliterate potential threats and viruses – because my enemy is not always a person; my enemy is anything that seeks to destroy me. “He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.” – Psalm 18:17-18. I encourage you to read this entire Psalm. Almighty God is willing to bend heaven and earth to deliver the one whom He loves – who needs a dashing knight to swoop in and save the day? I have JEHOVAH to defend and comfort me.
A “Master reset” is obtained simply by (1) confessing my sin that’s jamming up my relationship with God, and (2) allowing Him to reset my faulty programming with His, by getting myself saturated with His Word and godly counsel. There is forgiveness and help for the things that I can change; and there is victory and “reprogramming” for the things that I can’t. Those background applications are no longer a hindrance, but an asset.
How about you? Is your system so cluttered and fragmented that you can’t seem to focus on Him? Are you finding yourself having increasing difficulty maintaining base-level spiritual growth? Don’t assume it’s a phase that will pass. Run to Him for cleansing and see if a Master reset is what you need.