My car started making a strange noise somewhere in the middle of November. And like any wise twenty-something who responsibly handles his possessions, I turned the radio up until I couldn’t hear the bothersome noise anymore. My method of fixing the problem worked rather well until a month later when the noise became a loud grinding, which quickly tuned into a louder pop that sent my car squealing and shuddering down Kingston Pike. After panic had settled, a quick tow and a mechanic’s assessment, I discovered I needed a new engine. Oops.
What could have been a minor fix, had I paid attention to the problem when it first revealed itself, turned into me buying a new car. Had I exerted a little bit of effort at the front end I would have saved time, money and energy on the backend. I knew I was asking for trouble by ignoring the problem, but in the moment I just couldn’t be bothered to do anything until it was far too late.
If I am honest with myself, the struggle of hiding from my problems isn’t limited to the automotive world, but extends into my spiritual life as well.
If I am honest with myself, the struggle of hiding from my problems isn’t limited to the automotive world, but extends into my spiritual life as well. There are many moments in my life when I recognize an issue in my spiritual life. Perhaps I recognize that I have not spent much time in the Word or prayer recently. Maybe I know I need to reconcile a relationship I have damaged. Sometimes it’s a pride issue or a sickness of the heart that begins to manifest itself in my daily life and interactions with others.
Whatever the case is, all too often, instead of responding to these issues and addressing them while they are still fresh, I bury them deep and hide them in the busyness of life. I distract myself with work, menial tasks or entertainment all the while my problems continue to grow and affect my life. Instead of magically disappearing, as I would hope, my issues eventually send my life into a negative direction. I become spiritually dry, relationships are damaged, words are said and deeds are done that would’ve been better left unspoken and undone. Instead of addressing my issues when they begin, I find myself picking up the pieces left behind from the wreckage of my problems. Instead of being proactive and productive, I find myself being reactive and responding to the crises I’ve created.
Instead of magically disappearing, as I would hope, my issues eventually send my life into a negative direction.
Proactivity is stepping quickly and preemptively into a Spirit-led and Spirit-filled life, the type of life to which God calls each and every one of us. Instead of responding to negative results, we work alongside and through the Spirit to handle the problems as God would have us. We live in a fallen world so problems are something we cannot avoid, but we can determine to face them ahead of time before they get a hold on our lives and relationships.
I believe that the recognition that things aren’t quite the way they should be, the twinge in our gut that something has gone askew is God’s invitation to us to fight for the life He desires us to lead. Accepting that invitation requires us to do some work and to fight against passivity and against the problems life throws at us. But if we choose to accept that invitation and fight for the life God is calling us towards, things begin to look a lot better on the backend and new cars won’t need to be bought.