This is the time of year when you are probably beginning to plant flowers and shrubs to beautify the landscaping around your home. You spread grass seed in the yard for that picture perfect lawn. The lawn mower is serviced and the blade is sharpened. You spend an hour pulling the cord trying to start the trimmer and leaf blower after a winter of no use. The windows are cleaned, siding and decks are power washed, and the propane tank is filled so the grill is ready to be used. Lots of time, effort and money go into these projects. You have good intentions of keeping up with the yard work all summer. After all the effort you put into these initial steps, you wouldn’t even dream of not following through all summer. Or would you? Without keeping up with the yard work, by end of summer your yard will be overgrown and those new plants will be dead.
You have a new trailer to pull your favorite toys. It is made of steel and over time it begins to get nicked up simply from use. At first, you keep it in your garage (that garage you built just for the toys), but it is a lot of work always moving things to get the trailer in and out, so you leave it outside day and night. Soon you begin to see little flakes or iron oxide forming on the metal. These little flakes are caused by oxidation in the presence of moisture, and soon these flakes are all over the once new and shiny trailer. You wouldn’t let the trailer get rusty, or would you? If left unattended, soon that nice new shiny trailer will be nothing more than a heap of useless rust.
You hear about this person named Jesus and you begin to check him out. Soon you realize that you need Him to be your Lord and Savior so you commit your life to Him. Early on you burn red hot for Jesus. You read your Bible daily, pray often, go to church, and spend time simply quiet before God listening for His voice. You learn everything you can about Jesus and what it means to be His follower. You get baptized and you just ooze Jesus from all your pores. He is beginning to change your life from the inside out. You wouldn’t even consider allowing your faith to fade, or would you? But over time you find that your red hot fire turns to a flicker, and soon it burns out all together.
Many of us begin well, and we have real good intentions, but often along the way life gets in the way, and we get stuck just trying to survive. Just as if you want a beautiful lawn you must do yard work or to keep your trailer looking new you must maintain it, if you want a growing and meaningful relationship with Jesus you need to spend time with Him every day. We don’t get more of Jesus by osmosis. Dallas Willard, in his book, The Spirit of the Disciplines, writes this, “The general human failing is to want what is right and important, but at the same time not to commit to the kind of life that will produce the action we know to be right and the condition we want to enjoy (p. 6).”
The Christian life is a journey, a process, a constant commitment to walking left foot, right foot, left foot, etc. It is engaging in activities that keep your yard looking beautiful and away from things that cause rust. If you do not cut your grass, it will become overgrown. If you don’t maintain your trailer, it will eventually turn to rust. And if you neglect spend time hearing and reading the Word of God, studying His Word, meditating upon His Word, praying, spending time in quietness and solitude with God, hanging out with other Jesus followers, cutting out some of the clutter in your life, and serving those less fortunate than you, then it will be difficult for you to become more like Jesus. These practices just mentioned help us receive the work of God’s grace more consistently in our lives. They are tools of surrender and not merit badges.
God always has the last word, so we will end with this… “The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18