“Okay… stand clear…
Shocking… Beep. Beep. Beep.
Shock delivered. Start compressions.”
If you have ever had to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) then you’re probably familiar with the script above. You break out the device. Attach the pads. Connect the pads to the terminal if they aren’t already. Allow the machine to analyze the heart. If the heart is defibrillating then a shock will be delivered to the heart in order to restart the hearts normal rhythm. If not, then CPR will need to begin.
The combination of CPR and an AED is necessary to resuscitate a person who isn’t breathing and whose heart has stopped.
My physical heart has never stopped beating but my spiritual heart has been worn down by several episodes of spiritual cardiac arrest.
You might be familiar with these signs and symptoms of spiritual cardiac arrest.
- Too many nights away from home and family.
- Convincing yourself that lesson prep is the same thing as spiritual renewal.
- Tying to be too many things to too many people.
- Attempting to please everyone.
- Lack of personal boundaries.
- Allowing everything (emails, side comments, criticism, and rumors) to access and gain control of my mental and spiritual spaces.
- Inattention to cancerous bitterness and resentment.
- A lack of confession.
- When my worship before God lacks the organic and becomes more like eating processed food.
- A prayer life and practice that only exists in ceremonial spaces.
This month as we head into the craziness of the Christmas season (yes, including Thanksgiving), it’s important to make sure we’re focusing on our spiritual health and well-being. But before we even get to health or healthy, some of you might need to resuscitation. We might need to get the shock paddles out. You’re gasping for breath. You’re choking on the crumbs of a stale and bitter relationship before God and with people. You’re cruising on autopilot, you’re looking at Christmas and all the commitments that go along with it and you’re plunging, rapidly loosing altitude. You need some type of intervention. You’re just one encounter from your heart stopping, giving up, or walking away altogether. Here are three really simple exercises that Jesus did which can keep our hearts from spiritual cardiac arrest and provide health, especially during the holiday season.
1.Create a space that’s just meant for you and God. Jesus would get away from the crowds and find spaces that were special and exclusive. It was a space that was just meant for Him and His Father. Do you have a space like that? While I would love to climb to the top of some magnificent vista and sit on a moss covered log and speak with my creator that just doesn’t happen every day. My space is on my forty-minute ride into work. I’m alone. I turn the radio off. Phone is off. I’m driving but I’m talking with God the entire time. It’s our sacred space where we can be together. It’s a space where God can deliver shocks to my heart. Where is your sacred space?
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16
2. Eat well! No, I’m not talking about diets and real food. I’m talking about taking some time and examining what you’re putting into your heart. What or whom are you looking at? What or whom are you listening to? What are you watching? Your physical heart has limits. It cannot handle a diet overflowing with salt, fat, sugar, carbs, etc. Your spiritual heart cannot handle a diet of the worst this world has to offer. We must be vigilant and watch carefully what gets access into our most sacred space. How has your appetite been for God’s word?
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4
3.Friends. You have a greater chance at spiritual cardiac arrest the more lonely and isolated your life becomes. Jesus didn’t come and live the life of some mystical hermit. He came and surrounded Himself with twelve friends. He demonstrated that the best life possible must be done in and around a community of friends. You cannot continue to live this one life alone and isolated. You are going to need some friends to help you stand when you want to collapse. And some friends that can share the load when you’re tired and hurting. Make yourself a goal to find or add one true friend in your life this year.
“But I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15