My last trip back to the UK was for my mother's funeral. With her passing, several things needed to be dealt with, not least the car that had been sitting in the house's driveway for some considerable time. Before it could be legally driven on the road again, it needed its MOT (Ministry of Transport) test. After a car is three years old in the UK, it must have an annual test to ensure it is safe to be on the road. The comprehensive examination includes things like brakes, lights, the bodywork of the vehicle, engine emissions, and a road test. It is a criminal offense to drive a vehicle on the highway without an MOT if it is required to have one. The test ensures that the vehicle is safe for the people driving it and other road users and pedestrians. I know that some States in the US have similar tests and that in Indiana, a couple of counties require an emissions test. But judging by some of the vehicles on the road that appear to be held together with duct tape. Or have plastic in the windows or panels missing from the bodywork. I wonder if the driver and passengers ever make it in one piece to their destination. Perhaps a checkup is a good thing?
The period of Lent provides an opportunity for a similar MOT of our spiritual health. It can equally suffer as the years go by in ways we might not even notice from day to day but just accept as being who we are. Complacency, disillusionment, or sheer weariness are all conditions that can creep up on us and sap our faith of its natural vitality. Just as with our physical wellbeing, we need to be alert to the symptoms by regularly making time to examine our spiritual wellness.
As we start Lent today, traditionally a time of reflection on our discipleship, we should ask ourselves if everything is as it should be? We are none of us perfect, and while God does not want us to have a spirit of negative self-criticism, we should be ready to undertake an honest self-appraisal and then seek the help of the one who can bring healing and complete wellbeing. That also means being prepared to look in the places we would prefer not to think about and accept the healing and renewal that God can offer for the cure does not lie with us anymore. Many self-help remedies are the answer to our physical ailments. It lies in recognizing something is wrong and seeking help from the one alone who can give us wholeness. If we are willing to admit our need, God will do the rest, and it doesn't need an appointment. You can walk in anytime.
When was the last time you reflected on your discipleship in a meaningful way? Paul, writing to the church in Corinth, had these words of wisdom for the followers, "Assess yourselves to check that you are living in the faith. Test yourselves to make sure" (2 Cor. 13:5a). I would hope and pray that if you were aware of an issue, then you would not ignore it, reluctant though you may be to face up to it, but rather you talk to God and receive the promised forgiveness and renewal.
Perhaps this can be your prayer this week as we move into Lent?
Lord Jesus Christ, touch my life with your healing forgiveness and put a new heart and right spirit within me so that I may truly love you and faithfully serve you, to the glory of your name. Amen
Shalom to you, my friend,