I tend to be a creature of habit, and not all of my habits are good ones. I get up at generally the same time most days, go to work, and one of the first things I do is find some way to get ahold of come coffee. Even if it’s decaf, I need the feel of the hot java on my throat. It tells me to get going, to focus, to start making things happen. Sometimes if I don’t get that coffee, I’m just lost. My mental elevator gets stuck in the basement.
One of my habits involves the Internet. I spend much of my time, probably too much, using the Internet. Sometimes I use it to good purposes, like researching topics to write about, or to read up on something that I don’t know enough about, or to send and receive email from family and friends. Sometimes I use the net for ill, to waste time better spent playing with my son or talking to my wife or a million other useful things. The net can become a substitute for human contact, but it makes a poor one in the end. The “what’s over the next hill” feel to clicking around, hunting for that next cool or informative or just wacky site, never leaves me satisfied. Sometimes it feels like an addiction, I just have to keep clicking away even though my eyes have become bloodshot with the lateness of the hour.
But I do have one net habit that’s a good one. When I close a session, I head for the toolbar, grab the options menu and hit two buttons: Clear History and Delete Files. Those two buttons clear out my browser’s file caches, erasing data I no longer need and which, if allowed to accumulate, can slow down my peppy machine. It’s a good idea to clear out your history and delete downloaded HTML and graphics files whenever you end a surf on the web. That’s what those two buttons do. Think of them as preventative maintenance.
Wouldn’t it be great if life worked that way? You could just push a couple of buttons, and just like that, your sorry history, the record of all the things you’d messed up and done wrong, all the people you had disappointed or lied to or upset even unintentionally, and all the shortcuts you took even though you knew you were just transferring the cost to someone else, all of it, would just go away.
I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions. I don’t believe that one oath tossed out on an arbitrary day will have much impact, and I have decades of failed resolutions to prove it. There was the resolution to finish a novel—it died while the novel was still in the outline stage. There was the resolution to become a better husband. Well, can’t say that one went very far. There was the resolution to read my Bible every day. It lasted about a week, I think. I would go on, but it would get embarrassing at some point. Fact is, resolutions have never been my strong suit.
Consistency never has been one of my stronger points either. I tend to let little disappointments become nagging barriers to enjoying any success. I call myself by certain names, Christian, Baptist, etc., but don’t always live up to the billing. But I’ve always taken encouragement from the fact that God called David a man after His own heart. David was a leader, a king, a warrior for the people and the faith … and an adulterer, a murderer, a poor husband and a deadbeat father. If David could get such a high honor from God, I figure there is hope for me. My achievements aren’t as spectacular as David’s, but neither are my sins. Surely there is some room for an everyman like me near God’s heart.
There is. Taking a page from the computer world, we do have a Clear History, Delete Files mechanism, though most of us don’t know about it and therefore never or seldom use it. It’s not a magic button. It’s a relationship.
We cannot clear our own history, and we cannot delete all the baggage that comes with it, but we can turn it over to someone who can. And that someone is there, ready, all the time, to do it. All we have to do is ask.
Better than a New Year’s resolution, because it is permanent, and the first step on the road to a consistent walk in the right direction, it’s there for the asking. Jesus said for all who need rest or are burdened with the heavy baggage of life to come to Him. He promised to take up that baggage on Himself, and to forgive everything you did to deserve that baggage in the first place. And He is good for His promises.
Clear history, delete files. I’m not going to make another pointless New Year’s resolution for 2004. I am going to try and remember that imperfect David still found a place near God’s heart, and take hope from that. And I’m going to make sure that I keep up with a little preventative spiritual maintenance this year, by keeping up with the one relationship that makes everything else work. That relationship clears out my sorry history, and deletes the eternal baggage that that history had in store for me.