Living Columns & Blogs

Seek spiritual restart when temporal systems crash

Jarred Hammet
Jarred Hammet

“David besought God on behalf of the child … David got up, washed, changed clothes, went home, ate.” II Samuel 12:16a, 20.


If it is the Disney movie, most people love it.

If it is your computer that is frozen, there is a sense of dread — especially if you were in the middle of something. Homework, bidding on an item in the last seconds on eBay, just about to win in an online game, perfecting a business proposal. One can only hope that the computer will come back. Most of us know someone who has experienced the worst: the BSOD — “the blue screen of death.” You’ve heard the stories of a 911 call when someone could not connect to social media. “What’s your emergency?” “Facebook down, Facebook down. Need backup.”

On a better day, your friends who use computers simply close out their work and save everything. They start. They save. They back up. They resume later. On less-than-great days, they hope that a “restart” will bring things back, more or less, to where they were. There is a joy that everything was still there even if a few words or cells in the Excel chart are missing. You re-enter. You press on.

Depending on your computer, when you are ready to step away and when you are intentional about your practices, you hit the button that gives you choices: sleep, hibernate, shut down and restart. You choose.

And life is like that. Things change. Things happen — good and bad. Anywhere from the digital excitement of installing new software — Overwatch or Uncharted 4 — to the panic of the BSOD and their real-life equivalents. In those cases, a restart is the first order. Friends gather to play the game. A graphics designer can’t wait to try out the new tools. The BSOD’er is just hoping for almost anything that can be salvaged.

How much better it is when we intentionally make the life choice to hibernate, sleep and restart. Some people shut down for a day and take a digital Sabbath.

As I understand it, sleep simply causes a computer to keep the essentials in place but draws less power. Hibernate tells your laptop’s hard drive to “park the heads” — rather like securing the tonearm on your record player/turntable as opposed to leaving the needle on your vintage vinyl Otis Redding album. Hibernate makes it safe to move without vibrations causing the recording head to float over the data disk.

And, yes, shut down or shutting down evokes another set of emotions. When we hear that someone has shut down, it refers to the mind or spirit. Perhaps the person is unreachable. When we hear that a person’s body is shutting down, we gather the family and friends. When a factory like Kumho starts up we are joyful — jobs! When a factory is shutting down, it is the opposite. Bathsheba’s son’s body was shutting down.

King David was at a tough place. The child’s life was shutting down. He prayed. He prayed hard. He hoped. He wept. He fasted. He looked for God to be gracious — to remove the consequences of David’s own actions. “Come on, restart!” But the child died.

David had a choice. Shut down. Hibernate. Sleep. Or restart. Or start again in a completely new way. Much to the onlooking servant’s surprise, he got cleaned up, ate something, changed clothes and went to the place with no geeks, just professionals or the Apple store.

Where are you in your life? What does your life need? Sabbath? Parking the heads and starting a journey? A daily restart with morning spirituality? Sleep? Leaving the BSOD and starting anew or all over?

After David’s sin (poor ethical choice), judgment (consequences), there was mercy. He comforted the child’s mother. He did not listen to people’s well-meaning yet stinging and poorly timed words that they could “try again.” But they did try again. A child was born. A healthier child. And through back channels, they both received the word that God loved the child and they were free to restart as a family. They named the child Solomon. But God went further — call him Jedidiah — Beloved of the Lord (BOTL).

So, good people of Middle Georgia, get some sleep. Hibernate so as to do no harm. Shut down long enough to connect intentionally with the Lord. Restart. And if, you get the BSOD, reframe and listen for the word, and claim that you are BOTL. For that is what you are — beloved. Beloved from on high. Claim it, and go help someone else to hear it also.

Jarred Hammet is the pastor of Macon’s Northminster Presbyterian Church.