“They’re just trying to dig up some dirt on him.” And you and I both know what that means …someone was trying to find some terrible-awful-secret-sin buried in some poor soul to “do him in” …a phrase meaning all would be done to discount and disqualify him as any upstanding, honest, God-loving human being–in an effort to ruin his image and his career for the rest of his life.
“Dirt” became a powerful word. Not soil. Not nutrients. More like mud …muck.
A friend laughingly mentioned the other day it was hard to get beyond the word “Lent” because it made him think of dryer lint …that unnecessary stuff we throw away. But maybe that’s not such a bad analogy. In some ways, Lent becomes a kind of container to catch all the dirt that was stirred up in the heat of God’s truth. After the heat has done its work, the dirt can be filtered and seen for what it really is–the unnecessary stuff we need to throw away!
“But the spirit of truth does not seek comfort. The purpose of Lent is not to escape the conscience, but to create a healthy hatred for evil, a heartfelt contrition for sin, and a passionately felt need for grace.”
But after the dirt settles, what then?
While taking a walk in the neighborhood recently, I took this picture of a pile of dirt as I was thinking about writing this post. When I got home and took a closer look , I saw something I hadn’t seen when snapping the picture —the heart-shaped rock! Okay, okay — I’m not trying to be overly spiritual or anything but I can’t seem to get away from it …the deep, deep love of Jesus that “covers” all our dirt and grime and breathes life and hope and healing into any barren land in our heart. It was almost as if He had left His heart on top of that dirt to remind me He had already taken care of my dirt!
You see, I’m one of those people who have no trouble seeing and identifying the dirt on myself — physically and/or spiritually. I’m an obsessive hand-washer and can spot (or imagine) dirt from a mile away. 🙂 I know, I know …I’m getting help for that; but in the mean time, there are those of us who see and deal with the dirt but now need to move on and begin walking in the freedom of God’s love and forgiveness. Maybe you’re like me and you’ve confessed that sin (maybe a handful of times, but whose counting, right!!?) yet you’re still walking in the shame and guilt of it all not realizing Jesus has already removed that stain — catching and tossing all the dirt and lint — and He’s even given you clean clothes to wear from His very own wardrobe … “garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness”.
I can easily get bogged down in the mud and muck and forget Jesus has already made a way out. Like a loving Father, He made a Way over the muddy pit through the cross of Jesus so I could walk across it into His arms. He then cleaned me up and dressed me in His own righteousness — the only outfit that would do the job! That’s what He sees when He looks at me …Loved. Adopted. Family. Forgiven. Free. Clean. Righteous. Beautiful.
Do I believe that? Do you believe that?
Our Bible study teacher, Frankel Francois, reminded us that we are to “function from forgiveness.” He talked about how we often confess a sin and act as if that was God’s first time to hear about it or His first time to forgive when in fact, He’s been forgiving us all along. As he took us to Numbers 14, we listened to the words of Moses as he pleaded with God on behalf of his people with what he already knew to be true about God when he said, “In keeping with Your magnificent, unfailing love, please pardon the sins of this people, just as You have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.“ (Numbers 14:19 NLT)
Sharing more from verses 17-18, Frankel went on to say, “God’s strength (POWER) is revealed through the avenue of forgiveness. In other words, love is demonstrated by preserving life rather than destroying it.”
“The central point of scripture is that God has mercy on us who are stuck so fast in the mire — if I may be pardoned the expression — that we cannot help ourselves.”
(from Chapter 15–“The Divine Scandal” — Bread and Wine ~ Readings for Lent and Easter )
So go ahead …deal with the dirt! Get rid of that sin that keeps entangling you. Confess …repent …remembering Who it is you’re talking to. Plead from that place of Who you already know God to be —“The Lord …slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion.”
Then shake the dust off your feet and walk on in the freedom of God’s love and forgiveness — wearing that robe of righteousness with a humble, grateful heart.
Sharing responses from some fellow travelers…
“I’ve been thinking about my “calling” to play in the dirt. The horticulturist and nurturer in me makes it hard for me to think of dirt as something, well…dirty. When I think of dirt my mind automatically goes to dirt as soil, as a medium for growth. I’ve never minded getting dirty. Never fretted over kneeling down in the dirt and getting it all over me. And, every time I see life coming up out of the dirt I am in awe of the miracle of it. Truly.
I have regretted leaving my career behind. It’s the only thing I’ve ever felt I was really good at. But, I think maybe God is showing me and calling me to other ways of getting dirty and growing things.”
“At the campground when its hot and dry in the middle of the summer, our roads at the campground get very dusty. The only way we can keep the dust down is by putting calcium chloride on the roads or wetting them down. This process needs to keep being repeated as it gets warm and dusty and we need to dampen down the roads.
This analogy reminds me of sin; it keeps resurfacing like the dusty sand of a dry road. We do our best to dampen it down, try to be in control of this sin, hide it or “stuff” it so we don’t deal with it. We need to repent and deal with this sin with God. God is the heat that keeps exposing it so He can be our calcium chloride or water to rid of this sin. With the Holy Spirit …the dust is submerged in water” for Jesus “to take care of the sin.”
This wrestling is just like what Jacob went through and he wrestled with God. He received a new name. We receive Jesus to make us new.”
Nelson’s Family Campground, Connecticut
How is God speaking to you during this season? Did the Holy Spirit use something from any of these stories to intersect with your own journey? Are there still some tripping hazards in the way? What new attitudes are you putting on?
*Next week we’ll share some thoughts based on Chapters 20-26. You don’t have to read the book to join in. Just bring yourself.