I had an old van once. It was a very old van that would hold 14 people—twelve of them children. You can imagine that with twelve kids running around and through and sometimes over and under that van, it ended up with a lot of dents and scrapes and dings. It looked awful and I sometimes felt a little embarrassed driving that thing around.
It also didn’t run very well. It was old, after all. The steering didn’t work the way it was supposed to, the alignment was off, the engine sometimes died in the middle of the street, and the brakes kept glitching—causing a few white-knuckled moments for me. (The kids were oblivious.)
We eventually got rid of the thing. But imagine how if we had tried to sell it and in order to make it look better, we had buffed out the dings and scrapes, added a new fender and a new tail-light. Even got it a new paint job. It might have looked half-way decent, but it still wouldn’t have driven well or been safe.
The biggest problem with that van wasn’t what was wrong on the outside. Its appearance didn’t affect its function. It was the steering mechanism and the brakes that needed to be repaired—and until that was fixed, that thing was an accident waiting to happen.
A new buyer may or may not care what the outside looks like, but they’re certainly going to be concerned about what’s going on under the hood.
So it is with us in recovery. How many times do we spend our energy trying to make our outsides (behavior) look good, when it’s the inside—our basic functionality or character—that is the problem?
Whether it be an individual or a family dynamic, it’s not what you see that is the problem. It’s what is going on under the surface, in the invisible realm of the spiritual life, that needs the work.
The Lord doesn’t care about my outside. I’m not sure He even sees the physical, at least not first and not directly. He stands by waiting for me to realize that it is the inside—the spiritual me—that needs attention, adjusting, and retooling.
The physical is easy. In fact, if we consistently and persistently focus on and attend to our spiritual life, allowing the Lord to heal us, the physical part of us will virtually take care of itself.
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