Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I find myself to be in a familiar, if not a likable, place... a place of feeling stunted, slowed, exhausted

Its a place that I spend time in when I find my time has been invested in activities that don't fuel me, edify me, hone me. Some of these activities are necessities in life, things like work or school. But then, even most of those types of things are only draining because I have shut them into a closet that prevents me from engaging with them in a way that glorifies God. I find that when I approach these mundane activities with the attitude of worship, seeking to walk according to Scripture, and doing all things to the glory of God, that my life is lived much more in step with the beat of Christ that pulses within my veins.

A pulse is a funny thing. At work, a pulse is everything. No matter the situation, when things start to go wrong with a patient, the ultimate question starts with "Do they have a pulse?" As long as the answer to that question is yes... then, ultimately, everything is ok. Not ok in the sense that everything is fine, and no further intervention is needed, but ok in the sense that me and my friends aren't about to go full-blown code blue on you. The evidence still points to a problem, you are still heading into a bad way, but your weak, thready, inconsistent pulse means I have time for interventions. Maybe you need fluid, maybe you need drugs, maybe I just need to wake you up, but chances are, if I can identify the root cause of your current downward trend, I can fix your pulse... as long as it is still there. Stalling in any of these actions, or if those actions are ineffective, your pulse will almost certainly disappear. If that happens, can my friends and I get it back? Sometimes... ultimately its a coin flip, you lose your pulse (surrounded by those who are qualified and able to help) and its a 50/50 shot, and that intervention is a violent, torturous process that leaves a person permanently scarred... alive, but changed.

The same is true in our Spiritual life, our walk with Christ and the relationship He has called us into is pulsing through the veins of our soul. The strength of that pulse is maintained best when we are mindful of its state on a regular basis. Even when things seem fine, when life seems to be coasting, and the waters are calm, we might be easily missing the subtle changes of the pulse. My dad is often full of great quips on life, and one that always stuck with me was that "you can only coast downhill"... and I would have to say that here lately, I have been coasting. It has been happening long enough that the symptoms of an altered pulse have started to show up. I missed some of the earliest warnings, the subtle hints, and have arrived at the place described earlier... stunted, exhausted. My pulse is weak. I can rest in the comfort of the promise that the presence of this pulse is enough to know that it will never be lost, it will never stop... but it can get too weak to allow me to function. So, with these findings in my assessment, what interventions need to be taken?

The first thing I try with my patients is waking them up... this is an effective technique to get a small bump in vitals. Usually enough for temporary help. The problem is, it has to be done over and over again, and if the root cause is not found, eventually it will take more than a wake-up to help. These wake-ups are usually nudges found during a sermon, through music, or encouragement from someone. I've been getting these, and they have been working, but their effectiveness is waning.

When the wake-up nudge starts to lessen in efficiency, deeper intervention starts to be required... fluids, medications intended to increase cardiac output, medications to correct chemical imbalance, the spectrum starts minor and quickly deepens into more powerful intervention. For our spiritual pulse, we start with taking in the Living Water, ingesting the Word, spending time investing in our relationship. These are the maintenance tactics, and when the pulse is weakened, it can be a need of increasing the flow. At times, it may be an intensifying in the spiritual disciplines. Changing the routine, the things that have become mundane, refocusing on the importance of seeking the glory in all things. These interventions are generally very effective in strengthening the pulse.

If a pulse continues to weaken through these interventions, there will come a time when an impassioned, fervent attempt must be made by those who are watching over your pulse. These deeply powerful interventions can be very effective in restoring a pulse. They hurt, the scars fade, but never leave, but they are necessary. We hope that we never allow ourselves to coast into this place, ignoring the weakening of our pulse along the way... or we want to believe that we would never find the allure of our own glory so strong as to pull us into this point... but many of us will find ourselves here at some point. For those of us who have been through this level of intervention, we cling to that shred of pulse that was found, and we remain watchful of the early warning signs... we don't ever want to be back here. For those whose pulse cannot be found, we must concede that its likely that the pulse of the Gospel was never present in those veins, and let them go, hoping that life may soon break through the fortress of death.

Myself, having been through the deepest levels of intervention in my past, I am disdainful of these small blips of irregularity in my pulse lately. I am even more upset that the wake-up nudges have started to become less effective. I am hopeful that a preemptive assault will shift focus back into the right path, and place me back in-step with a strong pulse.

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