It seemed silly to wax the car on a rainy day. Perhaps even more perplexing was the fact I washed it the day before in preparation, knowing it was supposed to rain, and rain was expected the following day, too. Not surprisingly, there was no line at the car wash.
But waxing the car wasn’t as much about cleaning as it was protecting. I knew I couldn’t do it for at least three more weeks, and it would be warmer then. I like to deep clean the car, but I also protect it because of what is ahead. Before long, the sun will be direct and hot. The season ahead can damage the exterior of the car, and a little prevention can go a long way.
It’s the same with our spiritual lives. Deep cleaning is important. We need to dig deeply and pay attention to the cobwebs and built up dust and dirt. We need to attend to everyday maintenance to avoid corrosion and obstructions. We don’t just spray some air freshener to put on the airs of clean; we do the hard work to clean regularly. In addition to deep cleaning, we do what we can to protect our souls from the damage that occurs when we let down our guard. Some seasons are difficult. Protection isn’t about being paranoid but is simply the familiarity with life and the wisdom of what is possible in both negative and positive ways. Protection doesn’t harden our hearts; it guards our vulnerable souls as God created. It is his protection, not our defensiveness. It is his strength and wisdom, not our worry and reflexes.
Just as it wasn’t convenient to wax the car in the garage, it is often not convenient to more forward in faith with intentional preparations. Sometimes we feel all we can do is take one step forward at a time, but when we listen well, we recognize God is an excellent multi-tasker. He uses those steps to guide us in cleaning, healing, seeking, preparing, forgiving, loving, cultivating, and believing.
It takes time and effort—sometimes in the beautiful sunshine, sometimes in the drenching rain, and sometimes in the protective garage.