Spiritual Autopilot

If you were to close your eyes right now, could you tell me where all of the light switches are in your home? When you wake up in the morning and step out of bed in the dark, does your hand instinctively reach for, and know where the light switch is at in the dark?

Allow me to press my line of questioning even further. If in the dark, your hand encounters one of those multiple light switch panels with let’s say four switches, do your fingers know, even in the dark, which switch turns on which light? Do you, without thought, turn on exactly the right switch for the room, hallway, garage or outside light you want to be illuminated? I guess you could say that most of us when it comes to turning on the lights in our homes are on “autopilot.”

Now come with me on a quick real life experience.In September our washing machine malfunctioned and flooded our home causing considerable damage. Last week the movers came and emptied out our home so that the repairs can be completed, forcing us to move into a temporary rental home. We have been in this rental home for nearly a week now and everyone in the family is still struggling to find the correct light switches for the right room. So for now, being called out of our home is a little uncomfortable.

I suspect that unfortunately our spiritual life sometimes runs on autopilot as well, and we become mechanical in both our prayer life and our outreach to others. By way of example, let’s think about our routine on Sunday mornings? Are we fully invested into the importance of Sunday mass or Sunday Service, or are we just robotically walking through the motions. We wake up, then after the necessary bathroom visit, we make the coffee, get the kids up, get ready ourselves, yell at the kids because they are still not ready, get out the door late, argue on the way there, get to church with 1 minute to spare, and finally sit in our same pew as always just as the service/mass is beginning. Sound familiar?

What about your ministry work? Let’s suppose you work at the soup kitchen for the homeless. Let’s further suppose that you do this every Wednesday morning from 11am-2pm. Is this event placed on your schedule just like your book club meeting or your weekly golf match? Do you scurry around with other items on your schedule and arrive just in time to don your apron and get your “work” done? When finished do you hit the road just in time for your hair cut appointment, never really having taken the time while you were at the soup kitchen to engage those who are homeless as they made their way past you in the line?

Yes, it is true that even though we are doing “Christian things” and responding to Christ’s call to love others as ourselves that we can do it in such an “autopilot” way that it loses its meaning and purpose. Christian complacency can be dangerous. Whenever I fall into my Christian comfort zone, I am always reminded of these verses from Rev. 3:15-16 “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

In his first general audience after his election to the papacy, Pope Francis urged everyone to leave their comfort zone to search for “lost sheep.” When the new Archbishop of Chicago, Archbishop Blase Cupich first addressed his diocese in November of 2014 he reminded them that “Christ is always inviting us to more, to greater things.”

To get out of our comfort zone, we usually must turn off our autopilot. Today’s modern planes can do amazing things on autopilot. The autopilot cannot only fly the plane, but the auto pilot can take the plane to the designated altitude, it can control the plane’s speed and it can even land the plane. As good as the autopilot is, I am not sure any one of us is prepared to get on a plane knowing that there is no pilot on board. There are times when experienced pilots are absolutely necessary to make emergency decisions.

If you allow me to stay with this plane analogy for just another minute, I have observed from time to time newly energized Christians have a very good takeoff. They are on fire for Christ and their new enthusiasm is like a powerful jet engine. They are soaring with Christ. Regrettably, after a short time they turn on the autopilot when their flight path becomes routine. Suddenly they seem to lose their thrust and find themselves in a stall. Tragically, these stalls often lead to a crash.

I have read that there are 38 Bible verse warning us against complacency. Here are a few of them:

Deuteronomy 8:14 You then become haughty of heart and forget the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that house of slavery.”

Matthew 7:26And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.”

2 Corinthians 13:5Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless, of course, you fail the test.”

Proverbs 1:32For the straying of the naive kills them, the smugness of fools destroys them.

Throughout the entire Bible, God can be seen calling people out of their comfort zone. Let me ask you this; is it possible that as we start this new year of 2015, that He is calling you and me out of our comfort zone? He never calls us to a place we cannot handle. Like finding the light switches in our rental home it may be uncomfortable at first, but I have already noticed that only after one week we are beginning to reach for the right switch to turn on the light.

If God is calling you right now to unchartered waters, if He is calling you to trust Him as He leads you down new paths, you can rest assured that He is not simply a new light switch but He is in fact light itself and His light will guide you wherever He calls you to go.

Lord, I welcome your call. I know you do not want me to be complacent in my work for your Kingdom. I will go where you call me Lord if you but light my way. Amen!

Brian Pusateri
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