Four Questions to Test Your Spiritual Health
I’m not a horticulturist, but I have a yard with trees that were planted about 18 months ago. I knew it would be my responsibility to care for them by providing some of the nutrients they would need to thrive. I was told that they needed extra watering during the early stages of growth and to not rely on rainwater alone. So once a week I placed a water hose at the base of the trunks of each tree and turned on a slow, steady stream of liquid gold that would penetrate deeply to soak the root balls.
Months later I felt that my trees were established enough and didn’t need as much watering; plus, I wanted to cut back on my water bill, so I backed off on my weekly routine. After all, the trees looked great! I figured their roots must be more efficiently extracting water and nutrients from the soil.
During this past long dry summer, my grass needed constant attention. Dry patches would appear constantly. My trees, however, were doing fine even though they were fending for themselves a bit. The leaves on one particular tree were still a nice dark green color with a dark red outline. And there was no sagging, wrinkling or discoloring taking place on either the trunk or it’s branches. The outer look of the tree would provide me assurance that all was well... so I thought.
Then all of a sudden, almost overnight, some of its leaves turned brown and fell off! I compared my trees to others in my neighborhood and immediately noticed a difference. My assumptions had been wrong. Even though things were looking great on the outside, the tree apparently was slowing drying up and withering on the inside.
Sound familiar? We can be like that tree at times. We can look just as vibrant and alive as anyone, while suffering from malnutrition. I have felt some of this lately. A “dry season” of the soul is how I have heard this period described. I can’t put my finger on any one reason for this season. All I know is I do not want to end up like that tree.
You might be that tree today or you might know someone who is like that tree. Then again, you might not, since things may still be “looking good” on the outside. Eventually, the true state of our spiritual health will always surface. Whatever is hidden will eventually come to the light (Luke 8:17).
Unfortunately, after continued spiritual neglect, the hidden truth often surfaces with staggering consequences that seem to come out of the blue, almost overnight. A major fall that becomes public–the loss of a job, a spouse, a positive reputation or even worse, the loss of a life, are usually all indicators of continued neglect over time.
Let me encourage you (and myself) to not neglect the continual watering of our souls, especially for us more “established” believers, where the temptation is to rely on the abundant spiritual nourishment we used to receive. Don’t convince yourself that because you have an above-average knowledge of Scripture now or because you have a strong public spiritual persona, that focused attention is no longer needed.
Test your spiritual health by asking yourself a few questions:
- Are the Scriptures you memorized years ago fading from your conscience?
- Are you coasting in your pursuit of holiness?
- Are you walking in isolation rather than living in an authentic Christian community?
- Are you hiding rather than being transparent with a few other Christian peers?
If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, you’re at risk. Let me encourage you again to sit for extended periods of times and allow God to nurse you back to health. Make sure you have
a constant flow of biblical truth and grace flowing into your life. Look for and be involved in a community of mature Christ-followers where you can be transparent about your true state. The body can help provide both the truth and grace that you and I desperately need.
Don’t settle for simply barely surviving until Jesus comes to take us home. You and I can thrive even in a season of drought because His grace never runs dry and His truths never get old (Jeremiah 17:8).
One of the reasons I enjoy working for Athletes in Action is that we place a high priority on personal growth and development. In fact, it is the heart of our mission. Taking the time to get and stay spiritually healthy is mandated. That being said, in addition to my regular routine, I’ve committed to taking a half day of work this month to sit still and allow God to have my undistracted attention. I look forward to sharing about my experience with you next time.
My tree lives, by the way. I think I’ll go give it another drink. Care to join me?