“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the Lord your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him, then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you.
I couldn't understand the push to DO, around the house, so many things we normally took in stride. My husband and I talked over the details and I kept countering with we'll get to it. True, we'd get to it, but when? His question hung in the air, stiff, feeling more like an accusation. He began to explain the obvious; we aren't renters anymore, we need to take better care and do things different.
The statement nipped at me all day. We had always been good renters, why would be any different as owners? Our policy was to leave a place better than how we found it. We always worked hard to take good care of the properties we were blessed with. Trimming bushes, managing minor repairs as needed to the house. We rarely bothered the landlords except for big things like water heaters going out or electrical problems or leaks in the roof.
Then, as I washed dishes with a somewhat loose faucet, thinking how we should fix or replace the faucet soon, before it becomes a problem... it hit me. Like the big-fat-obvious it should have been earlier that day in the middle of our discussion: It isn't that we don't or haven't taken good care of our homes. It is simply that, when you OWN your house, you are more preemptive. You don't want things to break or wear out and, when there is something you can do to lengthen the life of components, it pays to invest the time and energy to care for it.... and sometimes make a small investment in upgrades and tools for said care. Something you don't do for a rental property because, let's face it, why spend all the money and time to fix something a landlord will fix for free? Only, the landlord doesn't send a repairman until it is broke.
I smiled to myself a bit in that moment, realizing how imperative it was that we switch from an absolute LIFETIME of renting mentality to the more cost-effective and responsible mind-set of OWNER in this new home which is all ours.
Returning to my dish washing, that beautiful voice which resonates in the heart when a lesson is to be learned spoke up. It is the same with all who are in Christ. I chuckled with excitement, realizing the awesomeness of understanding this spiritual lesson to be learned in a simple earthly experience....
You see, we profess faith in Christ, we 'go forward' and 'accept him', we attend church, we might go to Bible Study... we take on a surface faith with no real investment. Then, when something breaks or goes really wrong we pick up the phone to get the hot line to Christ and pour out our woes, begging to be repaired and see our little house in working order again. Sometimes, if the problems persist, we get sick of it and look for a new 'home'. Somewhere else where things don't break so much. But the truth is, the problem is never fully solved when we don't take the time to maintain. No matter where you are, no matter what you do, things break if they are not maintained. It isn't the landlord's fault. And every time they break, we find ourselves in desperate situations until repairs are made.
However, when we MAINTAIN our faith, like our home, giving it attention not when it needs it but because it is part of a regular maintenance schedule to help avoid potential disasters or break-downs, we actually have much less stress and worry. Sure, things will still break sometimes, and yes, those breaks can still occasionally be catastrophic.... but they break down less and, most often, when they do, it is less severe. But, no matter the situation, we can have greater peace and assurance because we maintained and prepared.
What if we took the same approach to our spiritual life? Instead of doing what we HAVE TO DO in order to get by in faith... what if we were preemptive? Committing to a daily Bible study routine which drew us deeply into God's Word, equipping us for all situations. Committing to daily prayer over ALL things, throughout the day, to see God's hand on every part of our lives and doings. Committing to use our time well in fellowship with other believers who can be mutually encouraging in the faith so that when we are with unbelievers or others not as far in their faith walk, we can be an example of Christ to them.... what if?
God, through Moses, encouraged the Israelite to NOT FORGET all He had done, to bind His Word to their hearts, their homes, their everything. Talking constantly of Him and His Word, loving Him, walking in His ways, holding fast to Him: they were called to an active and preemptive faith. God promised them that doing so, would deliver them from so many precarious situations. But they didn't. They went from owners of their faith to renters and eventually slackers.... and we all know the rest of that story.
Maintenance does take work and time when we would rather sit around or do what we want instead of what we need to. But maintenance is so worth the time when the spiritual fruit it produces makes for a strong home which lasts a lifetime.
I pray you may know the real power of spiritual maintenance today, to really OWN your faith rather than renting it and slumping it off to a bi-product of a prayer you once said. The nails that held Jesus to the cross, hold our faith to our hearts when we BELIEVE THE POWER of God for great things, daily; in prayer, Bible study and fellowship.