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Switch Off the Autopilot

By Belinda Elliott Senior Producer

CBN.comThe human brain is a strange and wonderful thing. Does your brain ever switch over to autopilot? Mine does.

There have been times when I’ve driven home from work and not really remembered the journey. I got there safely, but I didn’t remember most of the roads and turns that I had to take to get there.

My morning routine is the same way. I’m convinced that I don’t fully wake up until about 15 minutes after I’ve showered. Up to that point, my brain is on autopilot instructing my body to perform my morning routine without me being fully aware of it. If my toothpaste or shampoo is not in its usual place, watch out! I’ve reached for the shampoo and squeezed shower gel or shaving cream into my hair on more than one occasion.

This phenomenon has never really bothered me until recently. One day during a chapel service it suddenly dawned on me that often I’m in autopilot mode in my spiritual life as well.

During the chapel service, the speaker showed a short video. It was the story of a needy family in Cambodia. That’s really all I can tell you about the video, because that’s all I remember. I remember the lights going out, and I remember the video beginning. I guess my mind wandered far away, because I don’t recall anything else until the lights came up at the end of the video and I suddenly realized that I was clapping my hands along with the rest of the audience.

How did that happen? I didn’t even remember the video ending, much less engaging my brain and instructing my hands to respond with applause. As I looked down in mid-clap I realized that I had been on autopilot again, simply going through the motions. To the casual observer it looked like I had watched the video and enjoyed it with the rest of the crowd, but I had actually missed the whole thing.

The incident made me wonder how often I approach my relationship with Christ the same way, functioning solely on autopilot.

Read my Bible today? Check.

Pray? Check.

Attend church this week? Check.

Tithe? Check.

As I go through the motions of my Christian walk, am I really tuned in to the experience? Am I really listening to what God has to say to me each day? Or am I simply showing up and then moving on as I cross that day’s prayer time or church service off my to-do list?

Running on autopilot can be dangerous. In a morning routine it may be only a slight irritation. When it comes to driving it’s definitely not recommended, but in our spiritual lives it can cause even bigger problems. If I’m not engaged enough to hear what God wants to tell me, how can I know that I’m doing His will? I can’t grow closer to Him, or become more like Him, if I’m simply going through the motions.

In a recent Bible study at my church we discussed how God often uses storms in our lives to wake us up and get our attention. Often it isn’t until something interrupts our tranquil world and brings us to the end of ourselves and our comfortable routines that we fully engage in our relationship with God. During a video segment (which I did actually watch!) author Henry Blackaby pointed out that often God uses storms to speak to us because we haven’t gotten the message any other way.

That’s why running our spiritual lives on autopilot is so dangerous. Not only are we missing out on deeper levels of intimacy with Christ, but if we aren’t getting His message, God will find another (and probably less pleasant) way to get our attention.

The video that I missed during our chapel service was my wake up call. From now on I want to be fully engaged in all aspects of my spiritual life. I don’t want to wait for God to take more drastic measures to get my attention.

What about you? Has your spiritual life become more of a series of routines than a vibrant and growing relationship with Christ? If so, switch off your autopilot and get ready for a fresh encounter with our Savior.


Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Meet Him today.

Comments? Email me

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