Selfie! 3. Authentic

 How are your troubleshooting skills?

     I’ve worked on a lot of fire alarm systems. The purpose of these systems is to 1. Save Lives and 2. Save Property. The first purpose was fulfilled by the system turning on all the bells and whistles and informing the occupants to evacuate the building. Number two was accomplished by the fire alarm panel indicating the whereabouts of the fire to the firefighters.
     The old systems were divided into zones. Zone 1 might be the West Wing 1 Floor. Some buildings would have 30 or 40 zones. There might be quite a few smoke detectors (and other devices) on any particular zone. The issue with these systems is that troubleshooting did not happen very quickly. When life and death are measured in seconds, time is of the essence.
     So addressable systems were created. Every fire alarm device had a particular address that was programmed into the CPU (processor) in the fire alarm panel. Instead of zone 1 being “somewhere on the first floor in the west wing” it would actually indicate “Laundry Room 1st floor West Wing”. Much more accurate and easier to troubleshoot.
     The only drawback that would happen to the addressable systems were the processors. Sometimes they had glitches. I spent 3 hours one day troubleshooting the very specific circuit indicated on the panel with a deepening sense that there was nothing actually wrong with that circuit at all. Then I called the fire alarm tech. Guys who do nothing but troubleshoot fire alarm systems.
     He said “Yeah, that doesn’t sound like the real problem. I’ll bet it’s a mapping problem.”. What’s a mapping problem?
     In the newer systems, every device had a “location”. When a device needed replacing, the processor had to 1. Recognize the old device was gone and 2. Remap its address to the new one. Once you had replaced the device, you went to the panel and hit the “remap” button. Most of the time this worked, but sometimes it didn’t.
     Ok, I those of you I lost can come back now.
     Sorry about that, but I do know where I’m going. So how many times a year do you get completely blindsided by marriage issues/parenting problems/relational wobbles/financial surprises/whatever? That might be an indicator that you aren’t the best troubleshooter. Do you even know where to start chasing these problems down? It’s hard sometimes.
     King Saul had one disaster after another happen to him and his family. He had a way of always blaming the wrong thing for his problems. Why?
     He was not authentic with 1. Himself. 2. Others. 3. Community.
     If you aren’t, you’ll probably troubleshoot like Saul did. Sadly his problems only ever seemed to increase and never get solved.
     When force (stress) was applied to King Saul, his tiny surface area of “self” shattered.
     Your surface area can only be increased by your authenticity with yourself, with others, and your intentional involvement in community. Until you do this, there won’t be room on your platform of self for anyone but you. If every time force is applied you shatter, no one will want to get that close to you. There’s no room for them anyways.
     If I hadn’t been insanely intentional about authentic community, my marriage would have shattered. I’ll be honest and tell you I tried to handle problems for years on my own. It is an unusual and very painful realization that five minutes of the right kind of pressure is all it takes to break down even the strongest personality. You’re free to disagree, but be careful what you ask for… I used to be you.
     WHEN stress comes, how do you troubleshoot? I would suggest that an independent life is like a building with no fire alarm at all. When Force, or fire is applied… it’s normally too late to salvage what you once had. You can think you’ll be the exception but you won’t. Fire is the test and fire tends to burn everything. Some relationships just hold out a little longer.
     Life in community is like the old fire alarm systems. Real conversations with real friends who will tell you flat out “I totally disagree with you! Don’t you dare quit on your marriage! I think you’re being selfish.”. When the firefighters entire your disaster, they have an indication which direction the real problem is. That’s worth it’s weight in gold, believe me! When you’re on fire, you don’t think clearly.
     Here’s what I’m really getting at: Life in Christian community is like an addressable fire alarm system. If there is a God who knows you and loves you, I would suggest that He knows exactly how to fix your problem. He does that through your local church. Solutions happen much faster than in any other environment I have been in or experienced. I really want that for you.
     The processor is your brain. It’s the weak link in this scenario. A glitch in your brain is a killer to your troubleshooting. The only way you could remove the glitch was what the fire alarm tech told me when I asked: “What did you do?”
     “Oh, I plugged in the program and TOLD it to remap!”
Sometimes we need that
Corey Kope

Pastor. Father of 4 beauties. Devoted husband, Liverpool fan, and Jesus follower.

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