I went to the car wash a few days ago. Not a place you would expect someone to run into a spiritual lesson. For some reason, probably because I’ve just been reading a book on Psalms, I did.
Anyway, it struck me is we’re a lot like the car going through the car wash…we expect other people to help clean us up. We let the “brushes” gloss over the exterior — but then the interior doesn’t change. Sitting there on the inside looking out, I watched soapsuds– some white some pink. The suds covered the car, jets of water making lots of noise, the brushes beating the car, and the rushing wind blowing the water away. All of the sudden, maybe more than a sudden. Anyway, the grime was off the car. Kinda like the whitewashed tomb that Jesus mentioned when he was talking to the Pharisees all the religious trappings, but it’s only on the surface.
I don’t think we try to be whitewashed tombs. I guess it just happens. Life, at least that’s what we call it, gets in the way. Work, school, kids, problems…it all comes together and overtakes us. We worry, fret, plan, plot, and soon the spiritual stuff is pushed away. It goes in the back corner so we can find it on Sunday morning. And we don’t mean for it to happen that way it just does. When we come to church Sunday, we sing songs about surrender, following, and the joy we have in Jesus. We mean it at the moment. Then we step away. We walk through the doors out into the ‘real world’, too, in ‘our life.’ A life of other stuff. Then the joy, surrender, and following…it is put back into the corner of our heart. We may bring it out from time to time, but it pretty much stays in the corner until Sunday rolls around again. We pull it back out and dust it off. We feel guilty, we feel ashamed, and then we head off to church. We tell ourselves it’s gonna be better…we’re gonna do better. And then we walk out the door…
Yeah, those were my thoughts as the car went through the wash. Then my thoughts brought me to a word I just read about…perseverance.
I laughed and felt a little guilty. Then laughed some more because I recalled a recent time where I lived out a great example of the way my spiritual perseverance often works. I’d been to the cardiologist as a follow up from all the fun I had a few months ago. I’ve been on a rigorous diet that the cardiologist had recommended that I go on. I say recommended, it was almost a threat, he put it to me as a matter of life and death. The ‘threat’ worked, he reached me, I believed him, and I’ve been on it since. I’ve been rather faithful dropping 23 to 25 pounds, depending on when/how I step on the scales, in 5 weeks.
The cardiologist was pleased; he patted me on the back and told me I was doing a good job. I was pleased that he was pleased, and I was also happy with myself for the results. So, I’ve been a good boy, I’ve been eating my vegetables, and fruit, and beans, and seeds, and a few nuts…with only a small cheat here or there. I’ve persevered. So, with that good news in hand, I celebrated went and bought a tenderloin with fries.
Back to the car wash…while sitting watching my car get a bath. The idea for this post came along. At first, it was going to be all about how sometimes we go through the motions. Not letting God get deep…we keep him at a ‘safe’ distance. Then God, who has a great sense of humor, hit me with the punch line…perseverance
If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”[1 Timothy 4:6-10 ESV]
Who am I to talk about perseverance? After working through the diet and being congratulated, my first reaction was to jump right into the deep end with fried food and fries. On my own, I can’t persevere. I’ve proven that over and over and over again.
Thankfully, I don’t have to have the power to persevere.
I need to surrender and stay there. I need to quit trying to kick God off the throne of my life. I need to follow up with the commitment that I made to make Jesus Lord of my life. That’s all I have to do, recognize the Creator, the Alpha and Omega, the Great I Am, the God who spoke everything into existence. The One who knows the name of every star, knows the number of the hairs on my head. All I need to do is recognize him as my Lord and He’ll give me the strength to persevere.
Keeping my eyes on Jesus. Easy words to sing, easy words to say, but for some reason, I stumble. And that’s when I cry out I believe, help me in my unbelief. I cry out — give me strength Lord. I pray fervently that I find power and the strength that the Lord has given me so that I can live in the life that He’s planned for me. I need to be holding onto the Vine with both hands. Letting His power go deeper than the surface, bringing me to my knees, with a heart wide open, knowing I need Him.