Input = Output

Kathleen Kjolhaug Religion Columnist
Friday, November 27, 2020
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Input equals output. You’ve heard it said … but what, exactly, does it mean?

Let’s take a recipe for an example. When you follow a recipe, ingredients are important. Let’s say you are hoping to bake a pan of brownies. However, instead of using the ingredients listed, you simply plop an orange onto the pan and into the oven it goes. What will you get? You’ll get exactly what you put into it and upon opening the oven door, a piece of fruit morphed into mush will no doubt greet you.

Another example might be when you hope to paint your house barn red, yet you choose to purchase sky blue. A sky blue house is what you will get. What goes into the can will equal what comes out.

Is what’s poured in to any given mixture important for the finished product? Yes. What you pour in matters greatly.

But, what happens when you make a mistake and put something in you hadn’t necessarily planned on? Can those unintended detours you encounter be corrected? Can the wrong be made right?

What can be done when unintended input equates to an output you now desire to change? What happens when you dreamed of things being one way, but they turned out to be something else altogether? What input can now be given in order for the outcome to be transformed?

Let’s go back to the brownies. In order to transform that messy orange blob into an actual brownie, I will need to clean out the pan, and begin to utilize the sure proof recipe from a source that can secure the outcome. Turning from the mess I made and turning towards the words from the recipe, I will get the result I want. It will be transformative, and it will restore the old into the new.

Same with the paint. I will need to go back to the expert to help get the desired outcome. The experts know what is needed. In order for the house to be transformed into that which was desired, I have to begin anew by putting in the right color formula to get what I desired.

So what about us? Is it true that what goes in us impacts what comes out of us? Is the process of restoration possible once things were put in that we wish hadn’t been? Is restorative transformation possible?

According to the expert on transformation, Jesus Christ, the answer would be yes. It begins with confession. He takes away that which we confess. He takes it and makes all things new. The old passes away as He carries it away because He takes away the sins of the world.

What got me to thinking about all this? To be honest, it was the quiet.

The grands had just departed and the rain came down as I sat upon the porch when flashbacks of my own childhood upon grandpa’s farm came crashing in. His blue Ford pick-up held fast in my memory as we drove to close the barbed wire gates. Filling the buckets with feed from the grain bins was another memory made.

However, accidents happened from time to time. A gate left open, the grain flowing a bit too quickly with extra feed now lying upon the ground. No amount of admonishing could reckon with the force of grain flowing rapid like as it landed in areas not meant to be.

Was it grandpa’s steady input into our lives, his presence, his stability which helped ground us? Knowing he would extend his hand in forgiveness for any wrongs committed … made it safe.

Perhaps it was grandma’s constant beaded prayer line, which anchored the transformation journey of trusting in Him.

What I do know is ... when we are privileged enough to receive input from others … the output from it must be input into others. Helping to equip saints is what it’s about. As little footsteps pattern their steps after ours, may all who come behind us find us faithful and faith-filled.

What will the output look like once input has been received? 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is a new creation, the old has passed away; behold the new has come.” May we welcome His input so the output may be all about Him as we are made new. Amen.

(Kathleen Kjolhaug is a religion columnist.)