I am currently recovering from having a cold. I hate colds. They must love me because when I do get one, it takes up residence and demands everything from me. I hate cold medicine. I take it because I am so desirous of relief but the side effects are almost as bad. I can stare at the wall and like it. I become non-verbal. I don’t feel good or human. I know when I am sick with a cold. There is no doubt about my condition. I feel the life drain out of me and everything takes effort. There are worst things in life than a cold, but when you have one, you just want it to be over, as fast as possible. You know when you don’t feel right.
John Wesley wrote a sermon entitled: The Witness of the Spirit, based on Romans 8:16. In that sermon he states, “You will know if your soul is alive to God.” You know when you are sick. You know when something is wrong. Likewise, you know when something is right. You know when you are alive and vibrant and when you are where you are supposed to be and when you are doing what you are supposed to do. You know.
For Wesley, this was not head knowledge, but heart knowledge. You know you are loved by God, that God has forgiven you, and reconciled you to him. This is a matter of the heart. You know it because you love him and your neighbor. The love of God animates your soul, it is alive to Him. You know if your soul is alive and if it is alive to God.
Sometimes we confuse busyness with aliveness. While Wesley certainly talks about the “outward marks” or outward manifestations of the inward life, he is clear to say they are the byproducts of the inward life. Again, sometimes we are busy with good, outward things to cover or attempt to alter our numb, sick inward selves.
Lent calls us to be reflective, to stop and listen to the rhythm of our hearts and spirits. Perhaps we are reluctant to do so because we really already know, we have a cold. We aren’t well or really alive, not the way we would like to be. “You will know if your soul is alive to God.” If it isn’t, there’s a cure for it and the side effects are marvelous! Draw aside. Let the “Spirit itself bear witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Rom 8:16.