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Time For A Check-Up

I'm over 50 years old and medical science recommends that "old" men like me have an annual physical check-up. It's a new year and so I decided it was time to make an appointment with my doctor for an upper, lower and in-between once over.

The first thing the attending nurse checked was my vital signs. She measured my temperature, respiration, pulse and blood pressure. As I reflected on these primary indicators of a person's physical condition, I saw in them an analogy of our spiritual lives as well. As the new year begins, it is time for a check-up of our spiritual vital signs.

How do we know if we are getting sick? We either shiver or run a fever. Likewise, we now something is wrong with our spiritual life when we experience the hot flashes of anger and hostility or the frigid feeling that nobody cares. Relationships suffer irreparable damage if left untreated. We need to take time to rebuild relationships by applying the salve of love and the patience of listening. Confession may be part of the treatment and forgiveness is part of the cure.

A second vital sign is respiration. It is our ability to breathe--to take in and transfer oxygen to our blood stream and expel harmful gasses from our body. Respiration to our body is what renewal is to our spirits. For our spiritual life to grow and be healthy, we must renew ourselves through regular worship, study and the fellowship of other devout saints in the church.

Pulse is the third vital sign in the medical examination. Pulse has to do with both rate and rhythm of our heart. In other words, not only the number of times the heart beats, but also the regularity of those muscle contractions is important to a healthy body. In terms of our spiritual health, the pulse is measured by our commitment to live out our faith in our day-to day-activities. Commitment is made manifest in our attendance in worship, church school , and auxiliary groups of the church to mention a few. The spiritually healthy person is an involved participant in the life and activities of the body of Christ because it is through these gatherings that we receive nature, encouragement, fellowship, admonitions and mutual caring and support. A person whose heart only beats twice a year would not be considered a very healthy person any more than the Christian who attends church only on Christmas and Easter. If your spiritual life feels empty or inadequate, it may be from a lack of regular and frequent gathering together of God's people for prayer, study and meditation.

The fourth vital sign of my body's heath is blood pressure. Blood pressure is recorded in our medical chart as a series of two readings of millimeters of mercury, such as 120 over 80. Spiritually, the reading might be read in terms of desire over follow-through. The thrust of our spiritual arteries must be measured in terms of mercy over sacrifice and genuine caring over church busyness.

A healthy life requires regular check-ups, spiritually, as well as physically. If we check the vital signs of the spirit and discover symptoms of ill health, we need to lay them at the foot of Christ's cross and allow him to bring healing and wholeness once again.

About the Author:

Joseph Huse is pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Minot, ND. Reverend Huse is a gourmet cook! He and his wife Dinah are passionate about sharing their gifts with those in their church and their community.