With the latest medical opinions ruling out further medical interventions for me, I am once again forced to rethink my life priorities. This is nothing unusual. Many times during my life I have been challenged to re-evaluate why I am doing what I do. In ministry, do I operate out of a rich relationship with God and His Word, or am I merely maintaining a relationship with God and His Word â€˜on the runâ€™ to sustain my ministry? There is a subtle difference. What begins as an overflow of oneâ€™s spiritual life, can indiscernibly change to a point where one snatches time for prayer and Bible reading in order to prepare for an upcoming meeting or series of seminars.
Are we tapped into a reservoir or sipping from water bottles that need constant refilling?
I have had to examine myself to see if my praying is being spurred by self-preservation; a sense of unfulfilled responsibilities committed to me; the reviving of a relationship in prayer that has flagged and has needed this crisis to remotivate it; or is the deepening of a hope that will, probably sooner rather than later, culminate in faith becoming sight? It is probably a combination of several of these.
Even our motivation for business and working can change. We begin with a dream that flows out of a passion. It ends by creating a monster that demands all our energies and the sacrifice of our talents, families and time to sustain it.
The change is often undetectable until almost too late. In His mercy God will often lay us low with health or financial woes to force a spiritual stock-take and re-awaken our original sense of vocation and desire to have Him pre-eminent in all things.
Writing to Wormwood in Letter VII, (CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters.) Screwtape lays out the subtle twist that often takes place to transpose the basis of a manâ€™s faith from vitality to merely a means of virtue.
â€œLet him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the “cause”, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is oursâ€”and the more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here.â€