I began this weekly blog in November of 2008, as a writing discipline exercise. It has grown to be much more as it has helped me to refine and define my attitudes toward faith, women’s ministry and life in general. This act of discipline has been a beneficial one.
On my walk this morning I began to think about self-discipline exercises, in general, and what happens when self-imposed tasks, goals and deadlines become too stressful and counter productive. That led me to images of people suffering from obsessive compulsions that rule their lives. They are at the extreme end of a line stretching from total lack of motivation and self-discipline on one end, through healthy goals and strategies, into unreasonable ambitions and eventually arriving at clinical OCD.
People suffering from obsessive compulsive disorders feel a sense of panic or doom if they fail to perform the repetitive and often random acts their illness demands. Their attempts to avert some disaster are not unlike the athlete or fan who thinks wearing a lucky pair of socks or eating a particular “lucky” meal will affect the outcome of a game. The difference is only a matter of degree.
We have learned a lot about OCD in the last decade and its incidence appears to be on the rise. That isn’t surprising when you consider how plugged in we all are with immediate access to news of every random act of violence or disaster that hits anywhere on the globe. Our world may not be anymore dangerous and frightening than it ever was, but the constant barrage of bad news could certainly give the impression that it is.
Who wouldn’t like an infallible incantation or ritual of protection at their disposal?
Christians, although saved by faith from eternal death and separation from God, are not insulated from the dangers of this world. Our prayers and memorized Scriptures do not activate a protective force field keeping us safe from all harm. If we think that they will, we are as much to be pitied as the person compelled to count to 50 and touch three objects before going through a door, or who relies on any other senseless ritual to feel safe.
Evil exists in the world. It must in order for our free will to have meaning. But, if we put our faith and trust in Christ we can be sure that, whatever befalls us, He will be with us to see us through.
Prayer, Bible study, and obedience to God are spiritual disciplines that help us make our way through this uncertain world with the certain knowledge that God loves us and is always there.
On this Palm Sunday morning we can all shout, not as ritual or exercise, but as an expression of joy, “Hosannah! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”