Prayer: "Lord, create in me a clean heart. Search me and find any way in me that is not in line with Your will. I acknowledge that you alone are God, Creator of all. You have made me, given me the desire for You, and are my help at all times. You are my rock, my refuge in times of need. You are there when I sit, when I sleep, and when I rise. You give me strength when I am weak, sustain me when I am strong. You alone can right the internal struggle in my heart when I turn away from you. Search me, cleanse me, forgive me for when I take charge, and let me rest in your grace and mercy."
There is nothing like a good checkup. I don't mean when I am sick, although it's nice to go to an expert physician when something is physically wrong. I'm talking about when you just want a good workup to make sure there is nothing hidden that could become more serious later. Cancer is often detected during routine screenings and treatment is often most successful when started early. Our spiritual life frequently takes the backseat when it comes to assessing hidden dangers. We go to God when things are difficult and we need His help. He is there, He is always there- like a gentleman and a father. But like any father, the desire for connection remains strong and His desire for you to know Him for more than that is stronger.
This week has been about doing an Azimuth Check: a way to make sure that you are still journeying towards the objective you set out to meet. How are you doing in your relationship with God? Are you still journeying with Him, toward Him? A professor of ours, Alice Cullinan, first introduced us to the idea of a spiritual "check-up". In her book,"Time for a Check-up", Dr. Cullinan walks us through the spiritual journey of examining the state of our heart to see where we are grieving the Holy Spirit. Grieving the Spirit (Eph 4:30) can happen in obvious ways as we commit sins that not only cause consequences to ourselves, but to those around us. We need those consequences, and although it feels at times that God might be punishing us, what He is actually doing is allowing the consequences of our choices to play out so that we see the harm we have caused and make it right. Smaller, more hidden sins, are less visible to ourselves and others, but like a cancer can wreak havok if not detected and treated early. When we give in to the sin of pride (choosing our own strength or taking control away from God), we grieve the Spirit. In essence, it causes a gap to form between us and God. His voice becomes faint, His presence seems distant, His will becomes less visible. He has not moved, my friends, it is us. We walk away and our sin makes us feel as if the veil that separated us from the Holy of Holies was never torn. Indeed it was, but we feel somehow separated from God. Our access to God never changes, but our closeness to Him does. We desperately need to return to the cross, remember what Jesus did, what the Father did through His Son, and that the veil was torn (Matthew 27:51). Despite our wrongs, He has made a way for us to be renewed. Recently, Dr. Cullinan wrote in one of her devotionals,
One of the pitfalls of working in the yard is just how dirty and sweaty you can get on a hot sunny day. And sometimes when you finally quit working and drag yourself to the house, you are almost too tired to bother taking a shower. You make that last effort, however, and are refreshed at being clean again!
The psalmist shares with us how important and blessed it is to tend to the necessary ‘spiritual showering’ we need each day. We do not have to work at getting dirty spiritually; it is very easy, unfortunately. But the Lord asks us to come to Him for the cleansing we need and to be renewed and refreshed by His Spirit.
As humans, we will never be able to forget. He created us to remember our sufferings, our hurt, and pain. As difficult as this is when we want to start with a clean slate with our spouse, God allows us to remember because we are not as good as He is when it comes to offering grace. When we "shower" in His grace and mercy daily, we remember what it feels like to right that relationship with Him and it becomes easier when someone else is asking it from us. There is great comfort in knowing that God has forgotten our sin. He has wiped it from His memory because He loves you and consistently sees you cloaked in His Son's righteousness. Something we are given when we ask Jesus to lead as our Savior. Jesus is more than what He did, it is who He is to us daily. Have you grieved the Spirit? Have you checked for hidden sins that separate you from God's grace, from connection with your spouse?
Our relationship with our spouse is a mirror image of our relationship with God. We are one, and together we form the second best picture of God, the first being Jesus himself. When we sin against our spouse, in obvious and hidden ways, a veil or cloudiness settles in the threads of connection. Until we search our heart, repent, and seek grace we will misunderstand each other, have conflict, move in pride, harbor resentment, seek revenge, etc. We need our Father to be our expert physician. We need our Creator to reveal the truthful state of our heart. He knows you better than you could ever know yourself. Sometimes he uses the Body of Believers (your spouse, close same-sex friends, small groups, pastors, christian counselors, etc.) around you to reveal and confirm truth, but they will never take the place of us sitting at the cross. He is a jealous God and desires to be close to you, not just rescue you. Have you done an Azimuth Check lately on your heart? He is waiting and can mend your brokenness with His love. Click here for a Spiritual Inventory written by Dr. Alice Cullinan that we have used several times to do a check-up on us individually that also refocused our marriage.