I’ve learned that in most areas of my life I hate the idea of a routine checkup. I hate going to the doctor. Period. I hate it worse when I am going and do not feel like I absolutely have to go. The idea of getting a checkup when I feel good… just to have the doctor tell me that I do, in fact, feel good seems murderously painful.
Unfortunately, I have the same feelings about taking a car for a ‘routine checkup.’ Why, when everything seems to be working so well, should I go and endure the saga of an auto shop? Then, inevitably, although everything was working fine, there ends up being some $800 problem that they found in the nick of time.
I’ve noticed that these themes permeate my entire life during many seasons. I easily get caught up in routine and habit and then notice that months (or maybe years) have passed without me stopping to evaluate those habits.
About 13 years ago I was in a season of life where things were just ticking along like clockwork. Every day I punched the clock with a very programmed path ahead. That path ahead wasn’t just a a few months or even a few years, it was at least a 20 year path. I was just working the hamster wheel everyday with little thought or evaluation. When the tiny nudges of doubt would creep into my mind they would be easily dismissed as the predictable and stable routine of tomorrow broke light. I was feeling God’s work in my heart but I wouldn’t stop long enough to evaluate what it was that He was doing. He had to put a very dramatic and obvious stop to things before I was able to walk through a little checkup with Him.
I have come to really love the turn of a new year. I have some things I enjoy doing at that time of the year. As much as I hate a routine checkup, I have learned to value taking that time for my personal and spiritual life each January. I evaluate my spiritual life and disciplines. I evaluate my routine, schedule, and calendar management. I evaluate my faithfulness and obedience in my areas of responsibility (husband, father, friend, and pastor). I go as far as evaluating my work space and have found that each year it has been helpful for me to do a good cleaning of my office and computer files. In recent years I have also begun looking at my health and how I am stewarding the body God has given me as the medium through which I proclaim His gospel story. I do not ever want my lack of physical stewardship to get in the way of my ability to obey the call He has placed on my life.
After evaluating and doing a little cleaning, I usually come out of that with some lessons learned. I will tweak the way I spend time with the Lord or the way I spend time in isolated prayer. I will tweak the way I handle my calendar or the way I spend time with my wife and family. This has become a very refreshing practice for me because it gives me a fresh start feeling and allows me to improve on the areas of life where I felt conviction.
Paul instructs us with great urgency when he says, ‘present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’
One very practical way that we can walk in obedience to this scripture, during this season, is to take some time out of our routine and do a little personal checkup. Here is a springboard to get you thinking:
How am I investing time in my relationship with Jesus? How can I improve?
How am I investing intentional time in my spouse? How can I improve?
How am I investing intentional time in my children? How can I improve?
How am I faithfully and obediently stewarding my financial resources? How can I improve?
How am I stewarding my physical health? How can I improve?
How am I serving and participating in the life of my local church? How can I improve?
How am I engaging my circle of influence with the gospel story? How can I improve?
We could list hundreds of these questions and you will know the questions and points of evaluation that are most relevant to your story. I would encourage you to walk through this process and be intentional about walking in the great joys of being transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Matt Powell serves as teaching pastor at Crossings Community Church, a body of believers whose mission is to engage, equip, and empower homes for gospel transformation in Katy, TX.