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Three vastly different, powerful forces converged in my life the first month.

The first is a challenge to read the Bible in 40 days, along with others at our church. The first hour or so of the day, I immerse myself in Scriptures. I knew it would be challenging to read at this pace, but I underestimated how much I would enjoy it, how often I would make connections I’ve never made before, how much the Scripture would seep into my mind and change the way I see things.

Make Time

The second is The Highlight Course, taught by the authors of the excellent book Make Time. The course reinforced the message of the book: most of our time is spent by default. The defaults are present in every part of our lives. The solution isn’t willpower or productivity. It’s to set new defaults. “We want to help you set your own defaults. With new habits and new mindsets, you can stop reacting to the modern world and start actively making time for the people and activities that matter to you. This isn’t about saving time. It’s about making time for what matters.”

The third powerful force, of course, is the COVID-19 pandemic. I feel the pull every morning, and often throughout the day, to keep up with the news cycle, to find out what people are saying on Twitter.

Three very different forces, with The Highlight Course in the middle mediating between the first and the last. Which default will I choose: the default of being shaped by Scripture or the default of living by the latest news in this time of crisis?

Setting the Right Default

To be clear: I won’t be ignoring the news. I don’t imagine that many of us will.

The more powerful the pull to focus on the news, the more that will be our default behavior: scrolling, refreshing, stressing, and repeating the cycle again. I don’t want to avoid the news, but I want to avoid defaulting to behavior that isn’t what I want.

The alternative is to set new defaults. As the Make Time book says, we can work on “choosing what you want to focus on, building the energy to do it, and breaking the default cycle so that you can start being more intentional about the way you live your life. Even if you don’t completely control your own schedule—and few of us do—you absolutely can control your attention.”

So this morning, again, I’ll pull out my Bible and highlighters. I’m up to the Gospel of Matthew, with only eight days left in the plan. My app and website blocker will kick in from early morning until 4 in the afternoon. I’ll spend some time in God’s Word and prayer, and then wake up Char and enjoy breakfast together. I’ll get to work on a major highlight for the day, and then, when my work is done, I’ll check the news.

We live most of life by default. If there’s ever a time for setting the right defaults, it’s now. We must choose wisely.

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