I came to the conclusion today that church vans are strikingly similar to our spiritual lives. For those of you unaware of what the church van is like, let me give you glimpse into what the mechanic calls "a massive monstrosity of a van." Church vans are DIRTY. Outside and inside, as you can imagine, these massive monstrosities are not clean. After a youth trip I'd bet there is somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 pounds of snacks and 10 gallons of pop consumed inside the beast. More of it than I care to admit, ends up on the floor or in the cracks of the seat. Outside there are dents from Frisbees, smeared candy from students who spit it out of the window at high speeds and plenty of road grime and rust. I feel bad for the company I hired to completely detail the inside... they may call it something not appropriate for this blog after they realize what I'm bringing in...
Now on to our spiritual lives. The prophet Jeremiah says that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" I tend to agree with him. Our hearts are at the core of our spiritual lives as well. As Proverbs 4:23 rightly points out, "Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Life starts in the "heart" and moves (big word alert) centripetally. Kinda like that spin art you played with as a kid. You drop the paint in the middle and the spinning action forces the paint to cover the sheet moving from the drop to the outer edges. I imagine that is what our spiritual lives are like and the heart is the drop of paint, meant to spin to the edges.
Here's my comparison, what I pondered today after leaving the mechanic with the Massive Monstrosity. This van is really dirty, but it would be a full time job to deal with it. So what's important, what should I focus on? Then it hit me! The inside is most important. If I were to neglect the routine oil changes, air filters, and other repairs, the monster would die. And there is little difference with our spiritual lives. I feel like many Christians spend much more time worrying about what the outside looks like: church attendance, volunteering, tithing and so on. Those are great things, but only taking care of those would be like me washing the van instead of changing the oil. Vacuuming up the many crumbs instead of replacing the old battery. Eventually the monster would die, but at least it would look nice, right?
Take care of what's important, the rest will work itself out. One of my favorite Old Testament heroes is David, who was the smallest of Jesse's sons. When Samuel was checking out Jesse's family to decided what son would rule the kingdom, he went to the nicest looking, biggest, strongest seeming boy. God gently reminded Samuel that he should not "consider his appearance or his height" because "man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." Life is messy as the interior of our church van after 14 youth descend on it with massive amounts of snacks. Over time we tend to get dirty inside and out. If you are as time strapped as I am, my advice is to care less about the outside and more about the heart. Take care of yourself by having daily devotions, journaling, praying, and possibly blogging. Find some silence in a day, go for a walk, and talk to God. Take care of the inside and let the rest be not as important. Do this and you will experience life tuned up as it was meant to be, in relationship with the Life Giver!