de·fault mech·a·nism: a term in computer science that refers to a system’s preset condition unless overridden by an operator.
I think as humans, we have our own default mechanisms. From the alcoholic who gravitates to a drink to the shopaholic looking for the next deal. From the liberal politician who instinctively leans left on every issue, to the conservative who tilts right. We all have them. Some of us have more than one. They are the places where we almost seem “preset” to go. They especially kick in when circumstances don’t go as expected. When we feel insecure, afraid, discouraged, worried—it’s how we instinctively act in order to regain our footing. Two of the most common include fight or flight.
Fight. When life gets out of hand, the fight default uses anger to gain control and restore order. This mechanism tells us that if we shout loudly enough or dictate strongly enough those responsible for the turmoil will somehow yield to our will. And although the fight default gives temporary relief, the control is both temporary and ultimately illusionary. It damages everyone it touches. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Conquest is an evil productive of almost every other evil both to those who commit and to those who suffer it.”
Flight. This default mechanism calls the wounded one back to a “safer” place where the blows and bruises of life can’t reach him. He withdraws rather than fights because he feels like the ultimate loser. What’s the use? He thinks he can’t be hurt behind the walls of isolation. And although he finds a measure of peace, the price of separation is devastatingly high.
In Psalm 36 David expresses his sense of being overwhelmed by the vast sinfulness surrounding him. Yet his automatic turn was to neither fight nor flight. His place of default can be found in verses 5-6: “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep….” David’s default mechanism—the place where he instinctively turned in time of trouble—was the sovereign might and endless love of God.
So how about you? Where do you turn to when life gets hard? Control? Anger? Withdrawal? Self-indulgence? Let God overhaul your system. He wants to lead you to a default mechanism that never fails.