The Second Law of Thermodynamics teaches us that everything in nature is inclined towards disarray. It’s the reason that hot water eventually cools down, ice melts, rocks erode, humans age, old buildings crumble, and dead plants decay. It’s the reality of the world that we live in.
Practically speaking - have you ever noticed how hard it is to keep your house in order? No matter how hard you work to clean it, over the course of a week dust will settle on your coffee table, debris will collect on your carpet, smudges will appear on your wood floor, water spots will appear on your bathroom mirror. Like everything else in nature, the things in your home tend towards disarray. The process of cleaning must be continual if you wish to maintain a clean home. It doesn’t just “happen”.
It’s also true with our bodies. We can’t just go about our lives and hope to be slender and fit - if we choose to regularly eat on the go, do not prioritize making time to exercise, and make uninformed nutrition decisions, our bodies will begin to reflect those choices. Everything, including our own bodies, is inclined towards disarray.
It’s true in a million different ways.
Our homes require maintenance.
Our bodies require maintenance.
Our cars require maintenance.
Our relationships require maintenance.
Our careers require maintenance.
Our minds require maintenance.
Everything in our world requires maintenance, because everything in our world is inclined towards disarray. If you let something go, it will eventually fall apart.
I think there’s a deeper spiritual principle here, as well. Our souls, like everything else in our world, require maintenance. The unkept soul is inclined towards disarray. If we don’t watch it - if we don’t pay attention to what’s coming in and what’s coming out - we will become influenced by the wrong things. Influenced by ambition, envy, gossip, Instagram, Netflix, music, or politicians. In the media-saturated world in which we live, it’s impossible to go one day without encountering culture and its implications.
I’ll sidestep for a minute and caveat that I’m not advising we isolate and remove ourselves from the affects of culture. That "bunker mentality" is more damaging to the cause of Christ than anything else! If we simply resign to the fact that we’re stuck in this “horrible, sinful, fallen world” and just wait in hiding until we get to go to heaven, then we are woefully neglecting the beautiful cause to which we have been called. We’re called to our culture. So we need to engage it.
But when we look at the condition of our spirit, we need to take an honest assessment of whether we are allowing culture to lead and impact us more than we lead and impact it. If your spirit, like everything else in nature, is inclined towards disarray - what are you doing to maintain it?
That’s why I make a practice of what I like to call “recalibrating” as often as I can. I’m sure you’ve had those moments where you wake up in the morning and just feel “off” - perhaps you can’t quite put your finger on why, but something isn’t right. And it manifests in the way that you respond to your boyfriend or husband in an argument. The words that come out of your mouth in conversation with your friends. The choices you make in a spur-of-the-moment decision. It’s all a product of the condition of your spirit. And if you’re not careful, your spirit will deteriorate into disarray while you’re not paying attention.
Here’s what recalibrating looks like. Looking at the words of King David in Psalm 139:
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
David is asking God to search his heart. To probe the dark corners where cobwebs may have formed, to lift up the curtain and see where dust may have collected. This is not a fun or exciting thing to ask of God. “Know my heart”… it’s asking for God to know the worst things I’ve thought. The worst things I’ve said. The worst intentions I’ve had. And then he takes it even further - “see if there is any offensive way in me…” It’s saying, “God, intentionally seek out if there’s anything in me that you don’t like”. Do some digging.
It’s not fun. It’s certainly not easy. But it’s essential if we want to maintain the upkeep of our soul. Recalibration. Why do you think we schedule dentist appointments? We want to make sure that our teeth are healthy and strong. We want the dentist to point out, no matter how painful the solution may be, where we have weak areas in our teeth and where there is decay. If we’re that concerned about the condition of our teeth, which will rot and decay one day regardless of our best efforts, how much more concerned should we be about the condition of our souls, which are eternal?
The unpleasant part about inviting God to your “dental check-up for the soul” is that he will, invariably, find areas that need improvement. It requires great humility to be shown your flaws and accept that you need work. While deep down we all know we are deeply flawed individuals, we’d rather not admit it. But if we don’t, we allow ourselves to begin to slip into disarray and eventually wake up not knowing who we are anymore.
We’ve got to spiritually recalibrate often. We do so by spending time in the Word of God, allowing its truths to shape and convict us. We do so by spending time in prayer, submitting our will and our desires to the will and desires of our Father. And we do so by spending time with Godly authorities who can hold us accountable and lovingly point out weak areas that we need to address. It’s never an easy thing to do, but it’s a necessary thing to do as we pursue a life that looks more and more like Jesus.