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  • Writer's pictureA Musing Pastor

"Stale Faith"

My rememberer is losing ground to my forgetterer. (Please reread. Thanks.)

The other day, I looked at the grass and thought, "I should probably cut the grass soon." It's the time of year when neighbors cut their grass and we feel compelled to do the same. It is also the time of year when with good intention one thinks to cut their grass because it is growing quickly only to be met with 7 days of rain (which turns most yards into a hayfield). Know any local farmers who would come and harvest this mess?

Spring has arrived and with it (for many people) the unenviable task of readying lawn mowers is at hand. You know the things necessary to get your machine up and running efficiently like sharpening the blade, checking the spark plug, and purchasing fresh gasoline. (Who has time for that nonsense???)

Somewhere in the back alleys of my brain, I knew there was lawnmower gasoline left over from last year. I even thought I heard an echo down one dark alley that I had put Stabil in the gas to keep it fresh over the winter. (Please reread the very first sentence of this blog. Thanks.)

I grabbed the gas can, pulled the mower out, checked the oil, and filled the tank with last years petrol. Historically, the mower has always started an the first or second pull. After 7-10 pulls of the cord, the old coot finally started and ran rough and uneven. I thought it was cold and would eventually even out. It did not. Alas, it shut off and would not start.

I trudged to the garage to get tools to pull the plug and inspect and or clean it. (Something I should have done prior to this fiasco.) My suspicions were verified as the plug revealed carbon and unburned gasoline on it. Some cleaning and TLC to the plug and I believed I had solved the problem. After another 10 pulls on the cord the mower sat there and scowled at me. (Actually mower can't scowl, but this one has a personality all its own.)

Not to be outdone, I went and pulled out the older mower that hasn't run for 2 years. Surely this machine would save the day! I filled it with gas same as the first one. It wouldn't start at all. I know you are as surprised as I was.......

It was at this point I heard another voice down one of those dank alleys of my brain and it said, "You didn't put Stabil in this gas, did you?" With resignation, I grabbed the empty gas can, jumped in the truck and went downtown to buy new (fresh) gas. After draining the old out and putting in the new, the first mower kicked over and ran a little (still rough) and then shut off. Most likely the carb will need removed and cleaned.

The second mower (the older of the two) fired up after only 2 pulls and I actually cut the grass! All this bother because I hadn't maintained good protocols on keeping gas fresh with Stabil and doing proper maintenance on the equipment.

Our faith and spiritual life are much like lawnmowers, gasoline sitting in cans over winter, and spark plugs that scream for ongoing maintenance. We can choose to lowball the importance of daily feeding our soul and life of faith with the meat and potatoes of the Holy Scriptures. We can convince ourselves that time alone with God in prayer and quiet reflection aren't able to be shoe horned into our hectic schedule. We might even think our conversion experience 37 years ago (please insert your conversion date here for reference) is enough to sustain our day to day life and interactions. We would be grossly mistaken.

Faith and spiritual growth need daily maintenance and without it we suffer misfires, lack of spark, and nothing fruitful can occur. Stale faith is a danger to you and I personally and a detriment to the work of the local church. Consider the congregation of 100 people and 80 of them are trying to operate on stale faith. It is no surprise the grass around this church will probably not be cut and groomed well. The larger issue will be the community within earshot of this church will be underserved and under-loved because of stale faith that can't produce enough spark to excite the engine.

The apostle Paul was on point when he penned the letter to the church in Rome.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

It is in renewal of our mind, our faith, and our spiritual health that we become useful servants of God and become living sacrifices that speak to the world of God's Divine love and grace. Otherwise, God pulls our start cord and all we do is return a scowl. Yes, we do scowl.

"A Musing Pastor"

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