Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Oops, I Did It Again

Did you ever start driving to a certain destination and wind up somewhere else without realizing it? No, it's not what you were thinking ... No alcohol or drugs were involved, just a brain that is trained to go to a certain location.

I was supposed to meet some friends at Red Lobster, but instead I found myself on the road to Wal-Mart. Thank the Lord, I discovered my mistake and turned around, arriving at the restaurant just in time to be seated.

What's sad is that this is not an isolated incident ....

I've done this at least four times and each time discovered myself on the way to Wal-Mart, once actually in the parking lot before realizing my error.

The following is what I wrote about this experience after the first couple times it happened to me.

... I observed something interesting about myself. The power of routines over me is phenomenal!

This morning, I had intended to break my routine of turning left at the second stop sign to go to work and instead drive straight ahead to drop something off at the post office. Now, already aware that I am a creature of habit, before taking off I said to myself, "Self, you need to drive to the post office before starting to work. Don’t forget!" (I know myself well!) I even went so far as to place my items that I wanted to mail in my left hand as I drove with my right. That should have ensured success. Wrong! Naturally, I turned left as I always do. However, I am proud to say I only drove 10 feet before realizing I had to turn around and go back.

It seems that God wanted me to learn this lesson again. Before lunch, I had planned to go to the CPA’s office. In fact, I had a certain amount of time to get there before the office closed for their lunch break. As I drove, I was naturally concentrating on getting there quickly and glancing at the clock to see how much longer I had to get there. Yet, because my routine when driving on that road is to go to Wal-Mart … well, you guessed it.

Later, as I was doing my daily walking routine, I was berating myself about the day’s activities. I was wondering if a course of gingko biloba was in order, when a thought (I believe from the Lord) came to me. It’s not that I am so forgetful, it is just that I have trained myself to do certain things at certain times or locations. It is the power of a routine. Have you ever turned out a light as part of your routine and then later couldn’t remember if you had done it? Then when checking you realized you had done it automatically.

What would happen if we made the Lord part of our routines? For example, if we made daily bible reading part of our routine. Would we get so used to doing it that we would automatically reach for our bible and be ready to read before we realized it? Could we schedule prayer at certain times of the day? That is what Daniel did! He prayed three times a day so regularly that all his neighbors knew it! (see Daniel 6:13)

I don’t know about you, but I am going to take a look at my routines and re-work them. I want my routines to reflect God as my number one priority.

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