Not that it ever works, but for years I’ve suggested that if anyone decides to surprise me with some kind of party or event, they should let me know in advance. That way, I could put it on my calendar and be prepared. Then I’d at least be able to react with appropriately rehearsed facial expressions and impromptu comments that have been well thought out instead of standing there with some deer-in-the-headlights, doofus look on my face. A warning would be helpful because as we all know, all surprises aren’t the same.
For instance, there are surprises like when you’re invited out to dinner and show up really hungry and your hostess excitedly informs you that she’s invented a brand new casserole using leftover rutabaga, plantain peelings, and creamed turkey giblets. Then there are other surprises, like discovering in the midst of leading worship that at least some of the smiles in the congregation had more to do with the fact that I had gotten dressed in a hurry and forgot to zip my pants than anything the Holy Spirit might have been doing. So, if there’s a surprise in my future, I’d like to know at least far enough in advance to check my wardrobe.
Surprises Come Anyway ~
But in spite of my efforts to prevent it, unexpected things keep happening anyway, and I’m sure plenty more will be coming for all of us in 2019. It’s encouraging to know that some of them will be really good things. We’ll get surprises that create a spontaneous eruption of joyful praise and worship. Maybe someone we’ve been praying for will finally come to faith in Jesus, or perhaps that prosperous new career move we’ve been hoping for will finally come our way. Unfortunately, other things will happen that are the polar opposite of those good times, and they are the ones that we tend to worry about.
We don’t experience anxiety attacks because we’re afraid that we might get some good news and we won’t know how to deal with it. Our sleepless nights tend to come from dreading the unpredictable “bad” stuff. We know that every year brings its share of unexpected events that can instantly change everything. Accidents that no one could have predicted will alter someone’s life this year. Little insignificant issues will somehow morph into major catastrophes. Marriages will fail, businesses will go bankrupt, dreams will crash, and hearts will break in 2019. The question is not “will they happen,” but which ones will happen to me, and how do I prepare? How can I defend against what I don’t know and the dangers I can’t see coming?
Those are good questions, and there’s at least one good answer. Even though we can’t see the future, the God who created us can, and He has already designed and implemented basic defense systems to protect us on two levels.
Our Spiritual Immune System, the Unseen Protector ~
In the physical realm, God installed a marvelous array of internal defenses to automatically protect our bodies from all kinds of microbial intruders. We refer to it in general terms as our “immune system.” A healthy immune system defends us night and day from things we don’t even know are there, but if that system is compromised in some way, we can be in serious trouble. Microbes and toxins that would normally be dispatched easily can represent potentially lethal threats.
Physical immune systems are great, but we need more than physical protection. Actually, our failures in the spiritual realm will have far greater impact in the course of our lives than any physical problems we encounter. In light of that, God provided another kind of defense system to preserve our moral, ethical, and relational well-being. In many ways, it’s like a spiritual immune system. We can be assured that whatever 2019 brings, attacks will come in both realms, so keeping both of our immune systems healthy and functioning is vital. Interestingly, our role in maintaining each of them has some common elements.
Maintaining the Mechanism ~
Immune systems are complex, but some basic things can be done to ensure that our physical and spiritual immune systems stay healthy and that the protections they offer are operating at peak efficiency. At least three common factors have powerful influence over both of them:
- Diet ~ If we tried to live on junk food and candy, we’d find ourselves in physical trouble pretty quickly. Our body needs more than tasty carbs to keep its defenses operating, and the same thing is true spiritually. If our spiritual defenses are offered nothing to strengthen them except an occasional 3-minute devotional and a verse here and there that we get from the internet, we’re going to find ourselves in trouble. Our spiritual body needs nutrients from the entire Word of God to stay healthy.
- Exercise ~ A sedentary, inactive lifestyle is dangerous to our physical health. Our bodies were designed to move and work, and when we don’t allow them to do that, systems break down, defenses are depleted, and diseases find easier access. On the spiritual front, if God’s principles for living are never put to work in our lives, our spiritual defenses are depleted, our resistance to temptation will falter, and our natural tendency toward self-destructive behaviors will open doors to sin everywhere in our life.
- Awareness ~ Monitoring our physical and spiritual “sensors” and reacting to signs of trouble is vital. Immune systems deliver warnings when significant dangers arise. They cannot protect us if we ignore those danger signals.
We can’t know in advance what we’ll face in the year ahead, but if we are nourished with God’s immutable truth, our best defenses will be intact. If we apply His principles as the standard for our life, they will guide us in the safest path. If we keep the lines of communication active with Him, He will direct us when unexpected crises hit. If we keep our spiritual immune system healthy, God’s assurance to Solomon can be ours as well, and He will keep us ready for whatever the new year brings.
When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you, To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things, … Proverbs 2:10-12 (NKJV)
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to Tweet & Share from the pull quotes below. Each quote links directly back to this article through Twitter.
- “Our failures in the spiritual realm will have far greater impact in the course of our lives than any physical problems we encounter.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “God provided another kind of defense system to preserve our moral, ethical, and relational well-being. In many ways, it’s like a spiritual immune system.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “If our spiritual defenses are offered nothing to strengthen them except an occasional 3-minute devotional and a verse here and there from the internet, we’re going to find ourselves in trouble. Our spiritual body needs nutrients from the entire Word of God to stay healthy” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “If God’s principles for living are never put to work in our lives, our spiritual defenses are depleted, our resistance to temptation will falter, and our natural tendency toward self-destructive behaviors will open doors to sin…” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
Check out Ron’s book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth.”
Click HERE for details …
© 2019 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
To follow this blog, sign up just below the Search box in the upper right sidebar for regular email notifications of new posts.