On Saturday, I took my 2011 Honda Accord to the dealership for (what I thought was) routine maintenance. It needed an oil change, a tire rotation, and the recall I’ve been putting off for way too long.
Well, naturally, the trip ended up being much more than that! The car is now ten years old, and has 90,000 miles on it – so I shouldn’t be surprised if, occasionally, some non-routine issues start popping up. An unexpected $600 later, the car was (almost) as good as new. And as of right now, I still FULLY intend on it being Javan’s first car in about seven years.
You’ve likely been in a similar scenario with your car, house, or even your own body. As cars age, it becomes even more important that we perform routine maintenance to keep them running as long as possible. As houses age, we’re reminded (often at the most inconvenient times) that roofs, furnaces, air conditioners, and water heaters don’t last forever. As our bodies age, events that used to be no big deal (a slip on the driveway while shoveling snow, or a dive on PVCC’s volleyball court) can have us moving slow for weeks. With time, wear and tear starts to build up – and if we ignore it for too long, the damage will only get worse.
It isn’t just time that can cause wear and tear; circumstances can have an impact as well. If all the roads you drive on are in poor shape, your tires will wear out faster. A particularly harsh winter can speed up your furnace’s demise. Too much time in the sun can deepen those wrinkles. Extended time AND increased pressure combine to make the perfect storm for failure in vehicles, homes, and humans.
That brings me to a question: how are you holding up spiritually?
Have you performed a check-up lately? When’s the last time you did a comprehensive inspection? Have you stayed on top of your routine maintenance? I ask because the past year or so – both the time, and pressure of it – may have caused some additional, out of the ordinary wear and tear that needs to be addressed.
Here are a few quick, simple, diagnostic questions to consider:
How’s your confidence in God’s promises?
Do you find yourself wrestling with doubt more than you have in the past, and fear that your faith is weakening?
How’s your desire to worship and obey God?
Has praising God for who he is and following the rules he has laid down for our good become more of a chore, and less of a privilege?
How’s your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ, and your neighbors?
Have you found yourself more easily annoyed and less forgiving with your fellow believers? Have you found yourself less patient, gracious, and evangelistic toward those who do not share your faith in Jesus?
How regularly are you reading the Bible?
You might not have an amazing, emotional, “message in the sky” moment every time you open God’s Word – and that’s OK! But are you still getting the necessary (even if not always remarkable) nutrients that Scripture alone can provide?
How do your prayers sound?
Is there any sound at all? Is there an extended period of procrastination before any words are uttered, and endless excuses when they aren’t? When words do come, are they ALL words of frustration or complaint, with no words of gratitude and praise?
If the answers to those questions aren’t what they ought to be, it may be time for you to see a spiritual mechanic. Thankfully, our church has a number of them: they’re called “pastors” and “elders”.
While we’re certainly not above failure ourselves, and must always keep a keen eye on our own spiritual health if we’re going to help others with theirs, we know our way around under the hood (if we don’t, we shouldn’t be in the positions we’re in). And if we take our God-given responsibilities seriously – which we do – we’re willing to listen, pray, and offer appropriate amounts of encouragement, accountability, comfort, and challenge.
The past 14 months have been an especially rough road for all of us (in one way or another). Some of us may need some long overdue basic maintenance; others may need something more drastic. Either way, don’t let unaddressed issues build up over time, or ignore the check engine light. If you do, the damage will only get worse.
Talk to us. Let us help. Invite us to pray for you, serve you, and love you. That’s what we’re here for; that’s what God has called us to do.
Don’t feel like you have to shoulder the burden alone. Don’t worry that you’re a nuisance. Don’t convince yourself that the problem will go away on its own. Don’t be ashamed to acknowledge that you aren’t running quite as smoothly as you used to. Don’t be so embarrassed of the dents and scratches you’ve accumulated along the way that you try to hide them (even if some of them are self-inflicted).
You have been reconciled to God the Father. You’re justified by Jesus the Son. You’re indwelt by the Holy Spirit. You’re loved by your brothers and sisters in Christ. And the pastors and elders at this church take seriously our responsibility to shepherd you, and very much want to help you be the devoted, maturing, and multiplying follower of Jesus we believe God calls you to be.
And I promise we won’t charge you $600 for the parts and labor.
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12-13)
And let us consider how to stir one another up to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)