CALIBRATE: to plan or devise (something) carefully so as to have precise use, application, appeal.
When I think of the word “calibrate” I think of instruments like thermometers, speedometers, odometers, rulers, gauges, even measuring cups. They are necessary and useful as long as they are calibrated properly. In other words, they’re helpful as long as the “1 inch” mark on the tape measure really is 1 inch long.
The problem with life is that it can really can mess up our calibration. The things that started out true and right are no longer either. Use, real hard use, has a way of damaging things; warping them to the point where they are no longer reliable; you can no longer trust that what you’re getting is a true reading. “True north” may not be true…it may not even be north.
You know it’s time to recalibrate when you know your decision-making has gotten out of whack. Your judgement is shot. You major on the minors and minor on the majors. You are calibrating things that are unimportant or just plain wrong as valuable or meaningful or right.
When you decide that your best course of action is to be disloyal or to lie or cheat or steal or worse…it’s a clear sign that your calibration is off and some corrections are badly needed.
Often recalibration comes as something unwelcome. Death, divorce, losing your job or your home or other tragedies in life (as terrible as they are) can be great recalibrators. Sometimes it takes trauma to remind us of what’s really most important.
But there is a way to manage and initiate recalibration. You can control the process, it doesn’t have to be something that is thrust upon you.
Here is a 4-step recalibration process that has worked for me. I’m betting it can work for you too.
- Be still. Just stop already. Stop stressing and striving. I once heard that the best way to keep someone from digging themselves in a deep hole is to take away their shovel. So, it’s time to stop digging. Throw your shovel, whatever it may be, out of the hole and just take a deep breath. Ask for God’s peace, the perfect peace that surpasses understanding to fall on you, over your head and onto your shoulders and down to your toes like honey poured over you. There’s no way you can effectively recalibrate in the midst of chaos. You’re going to need to be still and quiet.
- Fast. I said earlier that often it takes trauma to induce recalibration. One of the best ways to simulate trauma is to stop something you’re used to. Going without food for a day or three is only the most popular form of fasting. Maybe you should fast from television or social media or watching the news or reading the Cardinals box score. Whatever it is it needs to be radical enough to cause a kind of controlled trauma that will help remind your flesh that it’s not the one in control. Correct calibration means your Spirit controls your flesh.
- Apply the plumb-bob. In the old days if a builder wanted to make sure a wall was straight, or plumb, he’d hold up a string with a weight on the end and “sight” the wall in relation to the string. He knew gravity would cause the string to hang straight and true. Now he’d compare to the wall to the string. What is your “plumb-bob?” What do you KNOW to be true? The word of God is true and useful, inspired by God and profitable. Step 3 is all about diving into the Word and reminding yourself of the truth found in it’s pages: You are fearfully and wonderfully made, You are loved, You have been created for a purpose, Jesus Christ is our only path, and He’s always here with us. These truths are eternal and they are the only reliable source for recalibration.
- Warm up. It’s hard to just jump back into the fray immediately. It’s hard to get up out of bed first thing in the morning and take off on a hard run. Warming up and stretching out are a very important part of the process. Take the time to pray and worship Him before you take off again. Allow the warmth of His presence; the intimacy of His closeness to build your confidence and your certainty that He’s near, He wants to help and He is truly able to help.
Take a look at where you are right now. Where is your head? Are you thinking some pretty crazy stuff; making silly and stupid decisions and wild lapses in judgement?
It’s time to recalibrate!