Annual Exam

It’s time for our annual examination.  That’s right!  Just like we have an annual physical examination, the season of Lent gives us the chance to taken an annual examination of our relationship with Christ.  To think about how we’re doing with nurturing that friendship, making it stronger and deeper.  How are we doing at setting aside or correcting or repenting of all those things that would bring that relationship down or take us further from the one whose name we claim.

How are you doing?  Is the friendship growing and thriving?  Is the strength of that relationship taking you to new places in your living?  Is it deepening your respect for Christ?  Is your commitment to it, and your connection to Christ freeing you to follow a path of obedience and devotion?

I suspect that in ways similar to our annual physicals, our annual spiritual exams will tell us some good things about our spiritual well-being, as well as reveal some changes we need to make in our living to restore health.

I also suspect that much of those changes have to do with figuring out ways that we can make lifestyle changes that will help us in our efforts to show love, devotion, commitment and obedience to the Savior.  I believe those lifestyle changes we should be working to make—and then continue to live by—are ones that will help keep us on the path of faith our whole life long no matter what is going on in life.

So what’s the best prescription for us and our spiritual health?  What strengthens our friendship with Christ and allows us to stay on the faith track?   Well, let’s turn to the object of our affection and find the medicine that will keep us healthy.    

In 24 Hours That Changed the World, author Adam Hamilton reminds us that Christ showed us the way to live as he stayed true to his calling and endured the cross for us.  His courage, particularly at the end of his life, was breathtaking in light of the coming abuse, scourging, mocking and pain.  His obedience to his Father’s will, incredible.  He chose to go to the cross instead of fleeing.  He chose to follow the path set before him, and did so for his love of God and his desire to save us from our sins.

So, given Christ’s example and his magnificent display of love for us, how do we respond?  What good, healthy spiritual lifestyle changes can and/or should we make?

Well, it probably can’t be a “one and done” kind of response.  It most certainly must be a daily offering of self—of all we have and are and will ever be—to the One who loves us best.  It most certainly must be a response that tells God that we are willing to make the changes that lead to a robust, spiritually growing, relationship with him.

Hamilton offers a daily prayer, originally written by John Wesley, that we might use as a first step in our journey to strengthen our spiritual health and our relationship with Christ.  May we offer it to God as we commit, each day, to do those things that will draw us closer to the One who sacrificed all so we might have life now, and always.

        I am no longer my own, but thine.
            Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
        Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
       Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
          exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
   Let me be full, let me be empty.
   Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
   I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
   And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
       thou art mine, and I am thine.
    So be it.
    And the covenant which I have made on earth,
l
et it be ratified in heaven.

Amen.

Pastor Sharon