Today, our newest car is two years old. I have to admit that it runs great and we really enjoy having it, especially on long road trips. We are comfortable, we have heated and cooled seats – and the front seats have a massage feature that is awesome for those times when our bodies are getting tired and sore. Our doctors have advised us that we are supposed to stop every 90 minutes or so on longer trips, getting out to walk around and stretch our legs. Admittedly, when we don’t do this, we find that it takes longer to recover and we move a little slower.
When I was growing up, my maternal grandfather instilled in me a desire to make sure our cars always were serviced and ran great. He was a real stickler for making sure that when you bought something, it was important to maintain it to the highest standard. Grandpa used to say, “If you take care of your car, your car will take care of you!” That mantra has been passed down to our kids and grandchildren as well. Regular service, oil changes, maintenance and even things like checking tire pressure are family norms – everybody knows how important taking care of our automobiles is, because “IF YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR CAR, YOUR CAR WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU!”
Yesterday, I dropped off our car in for its annual service and maintenance. I picked it up this afternoon. They looked at the computer history, ran diagnostics, replaced the oil, updated computer chips, navigation and maps as well as the onboard WiFi. It needed a front end alignment, though. We are fortunate that the annual maintenance is without charge to us and that makes it a little easier to make sure that it gets in to get checked out.
Most of us also make appointments for our own physical annual checkups as well. We head to the doctor, get a blood draw, have our vitals taken, including pulse and blood pressure – and discuss anything that is bothering us or needs attention. That even includes changes in our medications or lifestyle habits that may need to be altered as we age.
But I think that many of us fail to examine our spiritual lives annually even though we take care of our physical bodies. In the scheme of things, for believers, our spiritual lives, our eternal lives, are far more important than our physical well being. The truth of the matter is that this time of year, the season of Lent, is a great time to reflect on our relationship with Christ and determine how we are doing. It’s not unlike a physical inventory.
How are we doing in our relationship with God? Are we growing closer or moving further away? One of the goals of a dedicated faith life is that we are to grow more Christlike – we call that progressive sanctification. How are we doing on that score? Do we continue to memorize Bible verses, do daily devotions, read the Bible? How about our friendships – how are we doing with those? Are we living Christ centered lives? And how do we keep score of our progress?
The answer is … Prayer! The Holy Spirit, who indwells us, knows us – literally inside and out. And when we are unable to pray for ourselves, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and prays on our behalf. So any way you look at this, it is impossible to unplug from God. And we can trust the Father to run the diagnostics for us. How is our prayer life? Are we representing the Kingdom of God here on earth? Is our calling bigger than ourselves? Do we focus on others? And, above all, are we growing in our faith?
Fortunately, our spiritual checkup is also without cost to us. There is no judgment – God loves us and doesn’t keep score. If we need to adjust our daily habits, we can. If we lack in some area of spiritual discipline, we can fix that also. We can even pray for more faith – and that’s something that most of us don’t consider doing. We think that we can control our own level of faith – but I believe that faith is a gift of God.
The ultimate guarantee that will help us with our faith is to stay focused on Jesus, regardless of where we are in our faith lives. Our verse for tonight is from the author of Hebrews, who tells us, in Hebrews 3:1, “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.” My encouragement tonight is for each of us to take stock, during this time of Lent, to take a spiritual inventory of where we are in our faith lives. My prayer is that we will be disciplined to stay the course, become more like Christ and that we will be the light of the world for those who don’t yet know about the glory of God. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…