Tyres – check! Seatbelts – check! Mirrors – check! Ignition – click, click, click . . . nothing. There’s an old proverb that says “a stitch in time saves nine.” It’s a proverb about preventive maintenance. It speaks about needlecraft, but the wisdom it contains applies elsewhere. Take care of things while they’re easy to manage, and in the long run, life will be simpler. Clean your battery terminals on a sunny day, not at night in the sleet outside the chip shop! Attention to basic items applies in matters of faith too. Wise living is more straightforward than foolishness in the long run.
Bible study—one of the key elements in life’s routine maintenance schedule. The psalmist says “I have taken Your Word to heart; so that I may not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11). The Word of God is far more than just a handy toolkit for tinkering with life, however; it is also the diagnostic instrument. Frequent use keeps your spiritual life running well: “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; so his steps do not slip.” (Psalm 37:30-31).
But even well-maintained lives will run into trouble from time to time. Things happen, and life can go bad, even tragically bad, for no apparent reason. Sometimes we can be tempted to turn away from God in those times; as if He doesn’t deserve our company because He let our lives become hard. That’s all backwards. I’m reminded of another old proverb, an Irish one I believe: “If God has you walk down a stony path, He’ll give you strong shoes.” When times are hard, all the more reason to draw near to God through His people and through His Word. There is comfort there for the broken-hearted; encouragement for the soul-weary; wisdom for the befuddled; and peace for the distressed. Learn from David’s psalms how to cry out your heart to God – He really is listening. Learn from John how great is the Father’s love for us – He’s faithful and true. Learn from Paul how to be equally content in plenty and in little. Learn from Jesus Himself how God will never abandon or forsake you.
Whether you own a car or a hot air balloon or a banjo, you know that routine maintenance is part of keeping it in good condition. To maintain the condition of your spiritual engine, don’t neglect the routine, and don’t lose track of the tools God has mercifully provided to keep us “running with endurance the race set before us.”