Feb. 1, 2012
2 Timothy 1:7-8
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.
About two weeks ago, the four-wheel drive in my Jeep began not working properly. Last week, my lovely husband took it to a Jeep dealership and was informed it would cost $2,000 to repair the differential kit. We weren’t sure we wanted to invest this much money into a seven-year-old vehicle with 150,000 miles on it. I know; we must take into consideration that Rick put a new tire on the Jeep before Christmas to eliminate the shimmy! And we can’t forget the $55 motor he put on the rear window a week prior to the four-wheel drive breaking down. This motor runs the wiper to clean rear window. Rick thought I didn’t need the motor and should train myself to depend solely on side mirrors, as he does. When I didn’t buy into his logic, he humored me and installed the motor.
With the Jeep now in for repair, my husband is letting me drive his “Grandpa sports car,” his prized two-door Eldorado Cadillac. He’s demonstrating his great love for me in letting me drive this car. It normally leaves the shed only on dry, clean road days during the winter.
Last week, we were gone overnight and had driven the Cadillac. It was a single-digit temperature night and the Cadillac had to sit outside. Rick informed me that the car would be shivering all night long. My sympathy ratcheted off the empathy scale.
In many ways, it seems that my spiritual life has been shivering lately. I just can’t quite seem to get things together. Everyone runs into bad patches. I’m not in a terrible place but just wanting to make sure I don’t get into a terrible place! I know there is room for improvement, but lack desire, drive and discipline. Nonetheless, I want to make sure is this patch is as short-lived as possible.
Yet, just on Sunday, I shared in worship that Christians ARE going to have bad patches and valleys. The challenge with life’s valleys is that most of us want to get out of the valley as quickly as possible. We look for shortcuts. Sometimes, God would prefer us to sit in the valley for awhile while we’re trying to hurry out.
Ultimately, we all must assume responsibility for our lives and our way of life. I read this week the importance of getting spiritual assurance and energy from the Holy Spirit through our relationship with God. I’ve written papers about this, taught it and preached it. Yet, why do I quit nurturing the Holy Spirit’s energy in my life as I should? It’s so much easier to teach these concepts than actually make sure they are lived in the daily life.
“No one should attempt to be a Christian … who is not cultivating daily touch with the Spirit of God,” writes Ronald D. Sisk. A seminary professor, Sisk’s words struck home with me this week. Too often, I try to do my life purely with my own energy rather than allowing the Holy Spirit’s energy to guide my path. I depend upon my own skills rather than letting my leadership come out of my relationship with Christ. My soul would shiver a lot less if I’d allow Christ to help me do what I need to do instead of depending solely upon myself.
Within the Christian church, we often talk of being a servant and servant leadership, using Christ’s model as our example. The apostle Paul speaks of this with his younger friend, Timothy. Here’s the challenge. Too often the truth seems to get transmuted into a kind of doormat theology, Sisk says. “A servant is seen as one who never sticks up for himself or herself but puts everyone else’s needs first. Or, even more dangerously, a servant leader is seen as one who takes charge and wears herself out for the sake of the ministry.” Ouch. Martha’s nose just got bent out of joint.
Sisk offers an alternative. “A minister will indeed be a servant of the church and will also be a servant of Christ who maintains a healthy sense of integrity and personal boundaries. He will know what he is about and why, and that internal clarity of purpose will inform the specifics.”
Some of you may think, “Oh, those words aren’t really for me. I’m not a minister.” Personally, I use a much wider definition of minister than limiting this to someone in a clergy role. Substitute the word “disciple” for “minister” and, the statement covers anyone who desires to have God as a part of his or her life.
Sisk’s words reminded me of the great daily need to practice daily my journey with the Lord. I can skip exercise for several days and the world won’t end. I can eat a piece of cake today and promise myself to avoid sugar tomorrow. But pushing through on my own volition gets exhausting. Thanks, Mr. Sisk, for reminding me once again how absolutely necessary the Holy Spirit’s power in my life really is.
Let us pray: Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is peace; where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is love. There is comfort in life’s darkest hour; there is light and life, there is help and power in the Spirit, in the Spirit of the Lord. Amen.