By Sharon Robertson, Lt. Colonel
Though we would like to believe otherwise, the mysteries of perpetual motion and of absolute self-sufficiency remain thus far secrets known only to God. Both scientific theory and the Bible bear witness to an awareness that the universe as we know it is neither infinite nor static—deterioration is a part of the natural order.
Auto mechanics tell me that even though my car appears to be running smoothly I need to take it in for periodic checkups. Even though I may not be on the road as much as I used to, the car requires routine servicing to keep it operational. Even just sitting in the driveway bad things can happen—tires can go flat from undetected leaks; the battery may lose its charge and I will never realize it until I turn the key in the ignition and nothing happens. Rust happens.
Actually, there are a few things I can do to keep at bay the malevolent beasties that attack my machines: use common sense in the way I use the equipment; pay attention to the warning signs that not all is as it should be; don’t put off what needs to be done; study the manuals and handbooks to learn how to achieve optimal operation; consult the experts when I don’t understand what the manual is trying to tell me (and follow their instructions); don’t be too proud to seek assistance (that one is a real problem for me—I don’t like to confess that I don’t know the answers); and most of all, keep up the maintenance schedule, even when it may be inconvenient or may not appear to be a priority. (In practice, I tend to put it off and hope for the best.)
Sadly, in the spiritual realm the natural tendency toward deterioration and potential for atrophy holds true. I do not have to get in an automobile accident to damage my car: I can do real damage just by neglecting it, leaving it sitting in the driveway. Nor do I have to be involved in a traumatic event to damage my spiritual life: I can destroy it with no effort at all, simply by neglecting the “maintenance schedule.”
It was (and is) God’s intent that humanity should have the opportunity to transcend the natural tendency toward deterioration. He created man with a great capacity for goodness. He chose to gift mankind with the ability to make moral choices, and gave access to the spiritual power to make those choices. He saw to it that a manual of guidance was available to maintain and optimize the gifts given.
According to God’s maintenance manual, his Holy Bible, a few critical actions can hold back the “malevolent beasties” that would attack my spiritual life.
•Keep up the maintenance schedule. I may be pressed for time and tasks may need to be done, but my daily moments at the foot of the cross must take priority.
•Pay attention to the warning signs—those things that are trying to alert me to a spiritual malfunction. Am I too uptight to function effectively? Is my temper taking over? Do my fears and anxieties get in the way of furthering God’s purposes? Are my own emotions or personal issues ruling me?
•Don’t put off what needs to be done.
•Study the guidebook to learn how to achieve optimal efficiency; avoid the tempting shortcuts to spirituality. Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a worman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15 ASV).
•Consult the experts when I don’t understand what the manual is trying to tell me.
•Pray without ceasing! Keep in touch. It is to my advantage to listen to and heed God’s advice. Rust happens, systems fail—it takes God himself to keep the Christian operating at full power.