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recalibrate – 2023



New year. New word. New focus.

This year my word is “Recalibrate”.

“Recalibrate” is not a word that I particularly like. It doesn’t immediately jump out to me or inspire me. It’s the kind of word that Joel would choose, or my dad. To me, it sounds very masculine, not very poetic (and I love poetic words!).

Still, at the beginning of December, when my thoughts turned to the anticipation of a new year, this word kept coming to mind. I couldn’t shake it. And when I slowed down long enough to look a little more intentionally at the word “recalibrate”, I started to see its significance for my life.

In order to appreciate the meaning of “recalibrate”, we have to take a look its root word: “calibrate”.

Calibrate is a verb. It indicates the act of measuring something. Merriam-Webster defines “calibrate” as “to make standard (as a measuring instrument) by finding out and correcting for the differences from an accepted or ideal value”.

In other words, when we calibrate something, we are looking at an accepted value and then correcting what we have in order to fit that ideal. When this something begins to slip off track, when it drifts off course, we do the act of recalibratinggetting it back on track.

I think the most significant part of the definition is looking at the “ideal value”. I have to ask myself, what is the “ideal value” that I am recalibrating myself to? This is something to ponder.

In our noisy world, polluted with opinions, self-help books and podcasts all declaring their own ideal value, it is critical to pull away from it all in order to gain clarity. The true picture of what is ideal can get fuzzy if we are looking into our culture for direction. The ideal value will never be found in a program or a person. Man-made ideals will continuously leave us fractured and inadequate. Cultures and systems and structures built around personalities and preferences will only lead to discouragement, fallout and failure. People get hurt in personality-driven ideals.

So, where do we find this “ideal value”? To what are we calibrating and recalibrating ourselves? We have definitely drifted off course, so what do we do and where do we go from here?

In the process of growing up…getting older (and hopefully wiser), I am more and more convinced that the simplicity of God’s word is the compass that keeps us on the trajectory of our true north…our true path…our ideal value. Even as a Christ-follower, it is easy to veer off and into ideals that are not truly God’s ideal. They may not be bad, but they are not the best.

To find the “ideal value” we look to the “ideal”, and that is Jesus Christ. If you are a Christ- follower, like me, then the Holy Spirit dwells within us. We are image bearers of our Savior. The Bible tells us that the world will know us by our fruit. The outpouring of our lives should be the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). Christ embodied each one of these…he was a living picture of the fruit of the Spirit. Our “ideal value” is to be the same…to pursue a life that models Christ, and Christ alone.

We must re-calibrate to Christ’s “ideal value”.

In addition to this, Christ has given us the priceless gift of discernment: the Holy Spirit. I worry that this gift has gotten shoved into a corner and is becoming more and more obsolete in our fast-paced world that yearns for instant gratification and celebrity platforms. Discernment calls us to pause, pray, and consider. We can’t rush wisdom and discernment. We have to be willing to patiently wait as God brings clarity and peace.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

John 16:13

The gift of discernment is the act of listening to that still, small voice inside of us (the Holy Spirit) that warns us when something is off, that brings conviction when we have veered off course, and leads us gently along the path that God has prepared for us – it is the gift of truth. The Holy Spirit guides us in all truth, which sets us free as we follow Christ. This discernment ensures that we are calibrated to the “ideal value”; it is the “measuring instrument” that keeps us on course. We cannot do this life, this God-honoring work of discipleship, without it.

And this is where, and to what, I feel driven to recalibrate. This obedience – a long obedience in the same direction (Eugene Peterson) – to the leading, prompting, directing and ministry of the Holy Spirit within me. This is not some super-spooky-natural new age practice. It is, frankly, the fundamentals of living the Christian life. And this is where I sense the Lord leading me. Recalibrate to the “ideal value”, which is Jesus Christ. No more people pleasing, no more playing a role that doesn’t fit, and no more living outside my values. This year will be about listening more intentionally to the still, small voice inside of me, and recalibrating my attention and my life to God’s ideal value.

And, my hope and sincere desire, is to open up my heart and share very transparently my journey here. If you have been broken, my prayer is that, in this space, you will find a safe place to land. If you have been hurt, may you find refuge and healing through Jesus Christ, and in the safety of this community. And if you, too, feel the urgency to recalibrate, may grace abound as you seek to follow and obey, to set your eyes on the ideal value, and allow the Holy Spirit to do His ongoing work of aligning you to the truth. This year promises blessings and challenges. And it also promises God’s faithfulness and goodness each step of the way.

Recalibrating in 2023.

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