Following a disaster or critical incident, medical and mental health professionals typically do triage by making observations and asking questions referred to as a Mental Status Exam. The usual questions are: (1) Identity: What is your name? (2) Time: What is the date or time? Or Who is the president? (3) Place: Where are you? (4) Situation: What just happened? While simple, these questions can be difficult for someone who just experienced a traumatic event. How one answers indicates if they are alert and oriented in terms of identity, time, place, and events or in need of assistance.
Pastor Alan Hlavka of Good Shepherd Community Church, once observed that many of us Christians are awake but not alert and oriented in the spiritual realm. He suggested that our identity in Christ is often vague, undefined, or rote. Given all the fear, upheaval and confusion following the COVID 19 outbreak, as well as the conflict sweeping our land this election year, it seems especially important to be alert and oriented in the spiritual realm just now. May I propose that we give ourselves a Spiritual Status Exam? I am suggesting we ask ourselves these same questions but with a more biblical orientation to renew our hope.
IDENTITY: WHAT IS MY NAME? As a licensed professional counselor, I observed the damage caused by derogatory names and statements made to little ones. Tragically, those demeaning words become the fodder of that child’s adult self-talk. Self-talk is powerful. Remember the woman who touched the robe of Jesus? Although she was considered unclean, she kept saying to herself, If I just touch his robe, I will be healed (Matthew 9:21, Mark 5:28). It was a mantra of faith. What do you say to yourself? Are you speaking lies or His truth? Discover what Father God says about you!
You are His by creation: Genesis 1:27
You are His by blood: Revelation 5:9
You are His by your own choice: Rev 3:20, Joshua 24:15
You are His by adoption: Galatians 4:5-6, Romans 8:14-16
You are His by transformation: 2 Peter 1:2-4
You are His by heritage: Romans 2:29
You are His by community. Ephesians 5:27, Revelation 21:9
Agree with God! Our world may turn upside down and go sideways, but we can daily remind ourselves of whose we are. Loren Daigle sings about this issue in her powerful song, “You Say!” Whatever damage has been done to you or me, God offers us a new, holy identity. Let’s embrace it, acknowledge it, and speak it to ourselves. We are who we say we are . . . children of God, born again Christians, sons or daughters of the King, members of the royal priesthood, blood-bought children of God, and we are the bride of Christ. Let’s claim our true identity!.
TIME: WHAT TIME IS IT? The sons of Issachar knew the signs of the times (1 Chronicles 12:32). History teaches us that kingdoms rise, and kingdoms fall. Because America is in trouble does not mean the end of the world is imminent. Since Jesus said that no one knows the time of his return except the Father (Matthew 24:36), no amount of study will tell me what I want to know. Accordingly, my strategy is to pray fervently and faithfully, plan long term, yet prepare for Him to return tomorrow. Expecting Jesus, our Bridegroom, certainly feeds an eternal perspective and generates hope. May He find each of us ready, alert, and prepared as were the five virgins who had oil for their lamps (Matthew 25). I have one friend who has nailed this perspective. She signs every email, Working for the “Well done!”
One of the things I find particularly endearing about the gospels is that Jesus never seems to be in a hurry. Even though He was on a world-changing assignment and pressured by crowds, He took time for children, women, and outcasts as well as dedicating hours to solitary prayer. He was not rushing about, frantic, and breathless with self-importance. How thankful I am that we are also on an eternal timeline versus the tyranny of our cultural expectations. There is value in budgeting our time, but an eternal perspective orients us in every season of this life.
For example, will we allow ageism to demean and dismiss us as we grow older? Whatever our age, we are in God’s game, the only one that matters. Busyness calls, but meaningful matters. Let us find meaningful connections, you and me. Prayer is meaningful—our prayers actually fill the gold bowls in Heaven’s throne room (Revelation 5:8, 8:3). Let’s ponder that for an eternal perspective.
To be continued.