One day at lunch I struck up a conversation with a man who works in the service department of a luxury auto dealership. I asked him what percentage of car owners bring their cars in for scheduled maintenance, maintain their own, or fail to maintain their cars – just letting them run down. He raised his eyebrows and said, “That’s a good question. I don’t know, but I would guess that 10 % of our (Cadillac and Infinity) owners just let them run down.”
I was going somewhere with the question, and eventually asked him how many people take better care of their cars than their own spiritual welfare. Boy, I had his attention. A long conversation ensued.
I left there determined to find out more about people habits, because I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a correlation with how we treat ourselves and how we treat our stuff (no doubt, some treat their stuff much better than themselves). I found out that millions of roadside auto breakdowns each year could be prevented with basic vehicle maintenance. A 2014 AAA survey found that 35 percent of Americans skip or delay service or repairs that are recommended by a mechanic or specified by the factory maintenance schedule. That same survey shows that those who ignore maintenance “ultimately pay higher repair costs.”
AAA responded to more than 29 million calls for roadside assistance. Two thirds of Americans have never had their car battery tested prior to their vehicle failing to start. 60 percent of Americans do not check tire pressures regularly. Twelve million calls each year are related to engine trouble, fuel issues and other mechanical mishaps, 600,000 vehicles for transmission failure. And perhaps it is telling on human nature that even with “low fuel” lights, AAA provided gasoline fuel delivery to more than half a million vehicles last year. And just think, these numbers only reflect those who use AAA Auto services!
I suspect many fail to maintain their cars properly for several obvious reasons:
1. Some think they simply don’t have the time.
2. There is no apparent problem, so everything must be OK.
3. Some assume it is more expensive to do regular maintenance.
4. Some don’t know that regular maintenance is necessary.
I would suspect the same can be said about spiritual self-care. Some assume that spiritual care is the pastor’s job. Some think spiritual care is only necessary in an emergency. Some assume they don’t have time or that spiritual care is an unnecessary expense.
You’ve heard it said, “If you think education is expensive, just try ignorance!” We could say, if you think spiritual health is expensive, wait until you see the bill on spiritual famine! Unfortunately, the gauges on the human condition are generally masked behind rationalizations, blame on circumstances or people, or even activities and substances that medicate the condition. People tend to cover spiritual famine with constant noise and buzyness — we cover the gauges. Sadly, many never know there’s a problem until they are broken down on the roadside of life.
The Lord’s early answer for this “gauge denial” was the Sabbath; a weekly maintenance to allow the owner to “check the belts and top off the fluids”. The Sabbath has never been rescinded. In fact, we have now received the Holy Spirit who can interpret our gauges for us as we go – but we still have to slow down and listen to Him. What habits have you developed to maintain your spiritual health?
Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved 2016