April 08, 2005
We have a Yorkshire Terrier. Actually he's my dog. I wanted him. I picked him out. I bought him. And I am the one in the family he is most attached to. This little dog was something I had wanted for a long time. I had a couple of dogs in my growing up years, but they were never the companions I had wanted them to be. This dog, however, has become a beloved member of our family -- as I'm sure those of you who are dog lovers can understand. But suffice it to say, I love this dog.
I had let the dog outside a couple of days ago to chase the birds and squirrels and to do his "business" but had forgotten him. Meanwhile it began to pour, and it was a solid half hour before I remembered he was out there. When he came in he was soaked to the bone and not the least bit happy about it. He was even less happy that I had to use the blowdryer to dry him off. Of course I felt terrible at having forgotten him, but we made things right and carried on with our day.
Anyway, this morning I noticed two muddy pawprints in the kitchen floor. Now some people would have to wipe them up immediately. After all, what would people think?! As the saying goes, cleanliness is next to godliness.... But not me. When I saw them I smiled. They were sweet reminders of leaving him out in the rainstorm which in turn reminded me just how much I love this little dog. I can assure you those stains will be on my floor for a while!
For a lot of Christians, reminders of a muddy past are best cleaned up, hidden away, or destroyed altogether. That's especially true when their past has been muddied up with such devastation as abortion or sexual sin. They don't want anyone to see those stains. After all, what would people think? But for me, the muddy experiences of my life are nothing to hide away because it was through them that God revealed the depth of His love for me. It was through those painful, shameful, and difficult times that He pursued me relentlessly, and when I couldn't stand it anymore and turned back to Him, it was then that He showed me what real love is. Sharing those experiences from my past are precious opportunities to magnify and glorify my God, and to comfort and encourage others with the comfort and healing grace that He pours out on those who give their lives over to Him.
Our churches should be, I think, like my kitchen floor.... Marked with the muddy pawprints of our lives, not as tracks of tragedy but as trophies of God's grace. If we were more open with our own past sin and shame in light of His mercy, others would be freer to share their struggles with us. If they knew what we had been through and that we're not all that different from them -- that our sin is not all that different -- then perhaps they would feel safe to entrust their burdens to us. Instead of the enemy maintaining a stronghold in their lives because of the burden of secret sin, they could find freedom and forgiveness from that sin, likewise becoming witnesses of God's amazing grace to others.
When we can let down our guard and be real with others about what we have been through, God can use our muddy past to pave the way for healing for others. We have to stop worrying what other people might think of us and be willing to lay it all bare for the cause of Christ.Posted by mary at April 8, 2005 08:45 AM