Closed for Maintenance

The other day, my wife and I took our children out for an excursion to a park in Dallas. This particular park was supposed to have a great play area, and our kids had been looking forward to playing there for some time. As we walked up to the entry, we noticed a sign on the gate that read, “Closed for routine maintenance.” That’s it! No lengthy explanation! No city official there explaining the situation. Just a simple sign: “Closed for routine maintenance.”

As I walked away, I began to think about the simplicity of that sign but also the importance of that sign. I, for one, am thankful they were willing to shut down the park to do routine maintenance. Even though routine maintenance can sometimes be annoying, it is also necessary for the safety of my children.

Often times, I feel that we refuse to do routine maintenance on our own lives. We get caught up in schedules, meetings, appointments, laundry, cleaning, soccer games, phone calls, … and the list goes on and on. The truth is, every now and then, we need to remember to unplug, to stop the chaos, and to schedule some “routine maintenance” for ourselves.

If you read the Bible you’ll see that Jesus did this often. Jesus would stop doing ministry; He would stop teaching; He would send the crowd away; and He would withdraw to a deserted place to pray, to recharge, to do some maintenance. 

So, maybe you think you’re too busy for some “me time.” Maybe you haven’t stopped to take a breath in months, or even years. Maybe you need to stop for some routine maintenance. Remember: The world will go on without you, but you can’t go on without some routine maintenance.  

Bryan Sparks


The Purpose in Process

When I’m getting ready to undertake a big project around the house, the part I hate most is the preparation. If you’re painting the walls, first you have to cover the carpet with plastic.  If you’re replacing flooring, you have to start by removing the old flooring. I despise this preparation process— I’m just ready to see the new changes already! However, it is attention to detail during the process of preparation that will determine the ultimate success of the project.

In Deuteronomy 8:2, we see why this process of preparation is so important:

And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

At this point Moses is leading the Israelites out of the place from which God DELIVERED them to the place where God is TAKING them.  Their success or failure during this process will determine their fate, and the Israelites failed the process miserably.  Like them, we often don’t see God’s ultimate purpose fulfilled in our lives. And it’s NOT because God isn’t willing, but because WE weren’t willing to go through the process.

God tells us in this scripture that the process serves 4 purposes:

1. To humble you, for you to realize that ultimately, it’s not about YOU. The process forces us to enter a place of total dependency and reliance upon God.  The Israelites were travelling through a dessert; nothing came into their hands, but through a miracle from God. They had to learn to rely fully on Him for their clothing, food, and water. God wants to take care of us in that same way.

2. To prove you. The process allows us to see if we are capable of sustaining the platform God is building for us. Talent is only 10% of proving yourself; CHARACTER is the other 90%. During your time between HERE and THERE the Lord is concerned first with WHO you are, then WHERE you’re going.

3. To know what is in your mind and heart. You will never rise to a position that surpasses the condition of your heart. God can have the best plans for your life but if your mind and heart are toxic you will never receive the fullness of what God has for you.

4. To see whether you would keep His commands. Can you finish what you started? Right now in America only 50% of those who begin college will graduate. See, every NEW thing is exciting in the beginning, but you have to willing to remain obedient until the end of the process to be able to see the full fruit of it in you life.
If you find yourself between here and there, know that there’s a purpose to your process so you might as well enjoy the journey.

-Crystal Sparks