There are times in my life where I quite literally feel as though God has taken one of those metal feeling scrub brushes to my heart. You know the ones that I’m talking about? I’m not really sure what they are called-but boy do they get the dishes clean. Their made of really rough (what feels like) shards of metal. Well, when God comes with scrub-brush in hand I often flinch. I put up a fight. I try and do it myself and sometimes I even have good intentions. Why should the Savior of the Universe get His hands dirty in my life? Why can’t I do it for Him instead? The truth of the matter is though, I can’t clean myself because every time I do I get dirty again. I can never clean myself to meet his standards, but I feel more comfortable with the scrub brush in my hand because I know that I won’t scrub too hard or take off too much skin.
See, here’s the deal. I know that no amount of “church time” or “being good” can earn my “brownie points” for a God who loves us outside of what we do. (“Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to HIS mercy He saved us). Then why is it that I so often try and earn extra points from God and is this right to do anyway?
Sure, I shouldn’t just go off the deep end in sin as an excuse because I know that “God always loves me” and I know that can’t earn my salvation or lose it-(as Romans 6:1-2 says: What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”), but I struggle with the concept of mercy. Mercy means that I should not live my life constantly trying to make a way for myself to salvation because that in itself is sin (it’s saying that God’s sacrifice was not enough and I have the ability to “be God” and be “good enough” for him), but then again I do need to have the desire and want to do things that please Him just because He is Lord of my life.
How long will it take me to realize that Christ’s love isn’t dependent on my performance? How long will it take me to realize that sometimes I have to have Him come in with the scrub-brush to deal with the crap I have on the inside.
He’s been doing a lot of work in my heart lately. Going back to my illustration of God with the srub-brush, you know when you leave dishes unwashed and out in the open air for a few days? What happens? You know how the food just gets harder to wash off? Why is it that we hold off on God and His cleaning us off when we full well know that it’s going to hurt us more the longer it stays on it? It’s like a festering, infected wound on our bodies. The only way to heal it is to squeeze out all the bacteria and infection. Is it fun? Heck no. Does it hurt? More then words can say, but if we don’t do it, what happens? (answer: we die).
I remember as a kid I was on my hands and knees playing “cat and dog” with a close childhood friend. I slid under the couch and tore up my hand-not knowing that there was a needle sticking up under the couch. The cut was really bad, so my friend’s Dad soaked it in hydrogen peroxide to make sure that it didn’t get infected. Now, I come from a family who did nothing really (no band aid even!) when I got scraped up and perhaps that was better because boy I choked back the tears but wanted to scream. It hurt, BAD, but today-there is not infection-there is no scar-there is no reminders of that cut on my hand. If my friend’s Dad had not treated my wound as soon as I showed him I could have ended up getting an infection, or it could have scarred me more deeply.
So why do we try to hide our crap from God saying “I’ll deal with God later” (as the giant rotting mass of food on our figurative plates, or the festering wound on our body grows harder and more infected by the moment). So many people say these words (that they’ll deal with it later) as they go on to live their life in sin just adding to the grossness and infection that they carry (I’m so guilty of this!-even in the little things, I do this 100 times, I’m not saying I’m perfect at all, so don’t think that). We postpone God’s working on our hearts, but the truth of the matter is we end up coming out as the loser as addictions strengthen their hold on our life and we end up more and more miserable. I do this so much and I’m so tired of it.
It’s time for a change.
It’s time for us to let God in.
It’s time for us to bear our hearts, be brave and let God do what He needs to do with the scrub-brush.
It’s time for us to be honest that we don’t have it together and that it hurts to be messy, and it hurts to be in the process of getting ourselves clean.
Let’s quit the walls and masks please. Let’s walk away from our addictions, and let’s face the fact that we can’t earn our salvation, and we can’t fix ourselves. I’m sick of us pretending that we have it together. I’m sick of us hurting ourselves over the sin in our life.
AA says that one of the first steps towards healing from an addiction is to admit you have a problem. So…I’ll be honest for once (although I fight against it). I take off my mask tonight and I admit that I have a sin problem. I admit that I am a liar (a liar being defined as someone who struggles consistently with someone telling to the truth), I am an adulterer. I have lusted and wanted mans approval over the approval of my heavenly Father. I have struggled with hatred towards someone and bitterness is a constant companion of mine. I have an anger problem, I struggle with releasing it in healthy ways and not harming myself or others as a result. I’ve hated myself before on many occasions, hated the woman that God has made me to be and hurt His heart with my hatred. I have judged, and been judged, and judged that people were judging me. I have cheated. I have coveted, and wanted things that I did not have and don’t need. I have looked to many other idols to fill the void in my heart. I try and earn my salvation and earn “brownie points” and I’m afriad that God will let me down. I think sometimes that I know more then God. I have a hard time letting go. I sometimes love my friends more then I should and spend more time with them then I do with God. I’ve taken advantage of people, wanted more of people them then I should-got it, and regreted it, I’ve hurt people, and I’ve hurt the very man who died for me too many times to count. All that to say that I am the chief of sinners but buried beneath shame of past sins and current struggles I reach my hand out for the nail pierced hands and seeing me as completely clean the Lord reaches down into my crap and pulls me out, taking the scrub-brush to my heart and making me cleaner then ever.
If you’re 100 miles from God on a path that’s leading you further from Him, it’s never too late to turn around. The God that first called you will heal You and don’t be discouraged as you face the hurt of His cleaning-it will be worth it.
If your trapped in a cave thinking that you can somehow earn your salvation with a plastered smile on your face and a “good works” list in your right hand throw it down and run into the arms of grace.
If your confused, and you question salvation, or even God and if he’s really there and sees your pain or your confusion, join the club and know you’re never alone. Let the community of Christ come alongside you and point you to the Lord who has the answer to every question.
And if you’re like me who loves the Lord so much but feels far from Him due to sin and apathy so often, let’s get our feet back under us, confess that we don’t have it all together, and run straight into the arms of our Lord throwing aside all of our idols and false hopes that we cling onto so tightly because He never left us and searches for us (just read the story of the prodigal son).
Ask the tough questions-go ahead-this is your space. Just you and God. Write it if you want-leave a comment, or just turn away from the computer and write it, or voice it-whatever you need, but take the time to do it.
Confess how much you need the Lord-there’s no judgement here. If you want to be vulnerable and do it as a comment, do so, but if it’s just you and the Lord, embrase that time knowing that He has already removed your sins “as far as the East is from the West.” Confession is for our benifit, to help us realize just how much we need a Savior.
Don’t let this moment pass. Don’t let time slip away. Don’t walk away from God if He’s holding out the scrub-brush or the medicine. Have faith-my Jesus already took the pain, so what the Lord is doing to You is only what needs to be done.
Let’s be real with God-and be real with others and let’s see what He does with our lives-let’s see Him change the world maybe for one last time.