Recently I had to update the anti-virus software on my computer. I always find it slightly terrifying, as if in the 3 minutes the download takes to activate hundreds of computer hackers will find their way into my computer and unleash plagues upon it which will scramble my settings and gobble up all my work. I know, I know - one, I need to rein in my imagination; two, I need to seriously work on my computer-techie understanding; and three - well, frankly I need to get out more.
But really, where on earth would we be without anti-virus software? It's just a marvellous thing. I have (unsurprisingly) not the faintest idea how it works, and I really don't care much either. All I know is that somehow it protects my computer from the nastiness which could potentially overtake it if it were not there.
Now, I hope this isn't too much of a clunky link, and at the risk of being one of those comedy vicars who's forever saying "and that's a bit like Jesus..." - honestly, ever since I did the Norton thing last week (other anti-virus software is available), I've been thinking about the 'anti-virus' protection that my heart needs.
I am, as the 1662 Prayer Book would put it, a 'miserable sinner'. That sentence will come as no surprise to anyone who's ever met me. However - and I'm sorry if this is a bit over familiar - so are you. The prophet Isaiah puts it like this - "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way." What he means, basically, is that we all stuff up, screw up, mess up and cock up on a fairly regular basis.
I am susceptible to all manner of temptations and I am drawn to any number of things which I know are not good for me. I am open to 'viruses' coming at me from all angles and spreading their poison. The result is that I get a bit messed up inside. I can screw up my eyes and stick my fingers in my ears shouting 'la la la la la, not listening' as much as I like, but it won't help (I've tried!). The viruses get me every time, if my anti-virus software isn't up to date.
I make sure I protect my computer. I wouldn't dream of letting my anti-virus subscription run out and then connecting to the internet - it would be madness. I know that if I were to do that I'd be opening up my computer to all sorts of risks and dangers. And yet how crazy it is that I take such good care of my computer, while so often leaving my heart and mind open to attacks from all sides.
So I've been pondering a lot the need to 'guard my heart' as the book of Proverbs reminds me to do 'above all else'. It's good advice.