Design limits

A reflection from Rich Dixon which s helpful for black Friday.


Woodward Company is an international industrial design firm based in my Colorado hometown.

Their original flagship product was “governors,” sophisticated controls that constrain an engine’s speed.

An engine governor feels like a buzzkill. Why should some engineer get to limit my freedom and decide how fast I can go?

However, my engineer/designer friends tell me a governor protects the engine. It assures that the engine operates safely within its design parameters.

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Recently, different kinds of governors have prompted lots of “discussion” about limitations. Closures, masks, and social distancing are designed to protect, but – much like engine governors – they feel like a freedom-restricting buzzkill.

Even worse, these important safeguards don’t solve, or even address, the core problem.

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Despite best efforts of political leaders, lots of us feel like we’re speeding out of control. Uncertainty and confusion. Conflict and division. Chaos and fear. Unhealthy, dangerous levels of stress, anxiety, anger, and fear.

Into the turmoil, the Designer speaks words of comfort:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Jesus isn’t a cosmic buzzkill trying to limit our fun or our liberty. His guidance isn’t heavy or ill-fitting. He simply wants us to operate safely – freely and lightly – within our design parameters.

He’s the Designer. He knows we were meant to operate in “the unforced rhythms of grace.”

Many of us are worried and afraid. We’re tired and worn out.

Maybe this is an opportunity to spend some time with the Designer.