First, I feel I need to explain something about myself and my beliefs. I believe in a God who is not limited to the voice, space, or attributes that I (or anyone else) give Him. I believe in THE I AM, who was, who is, and who is to be. I believe in a God who speaks through His Word (the Bible), circumstances, and yes, in a voice with actual words. I have always relied on the tangible to express the intangible truths of God, and God has always been faithful to speak to me.
Often in spiritually dry times I have realized that my issue is not that He has been quiet but that I have not been listening. I do not seek to spirtual-ize everything that happens to me, however I have learned that when I have ears to hear that God has words to be heard and shared. I hope this explains my heart…so grab a rubber ducky and let me share with you about my bath yesterday.
I had taken a quick shower in the hospital, well quick in slow motion might be a better choice of words. And it hurt bad. I remember once fully dressed saying I never wanted to change clothes or shower again.
My hair, is long. I have been growing it out for a long time. But first I must explain that for the past two years I have been living and working in a tropical country. Taking jeepneys. Sweating. I thought all my vanity was gone. I rarely wear any makeup or do much more than pull my hair up into a ponytail. I, apparently overly pridefully assumed that I had given my vanity to God. Ha, what a joke.
Then I went to the hospital and now have an odd shaped shaved spot on the side of my head and have been sporting a lovely compression wrap. (Well, okay I am now down to just a bandage.)
This morning before I bathed, my sweet Wendy reminded me that the hair that would come out was the hair that had already been cut. I nodded like I understood. And I did, but it was not until I began pulling small clumps out of hair out of head that I realized how much it would bother me.
Here is the thing. That hair hurt me….not physically but emotionally to pull out. It hurt my pride. My vanity. Wendy’s words became my mantra. “Already cut off.”
As I looked at the small pile of hair I realized how silly it was to cry over something that was already separated from me. Cut off from me. Something that could do no longer do me any good. Something that could only get tangled up what was still attached to me.
In truth the pile of hair was much less than I thought it would be, but as I looked at the growing pile I saw it as what it was. My old self.
So often even though we are new creations we cling to the old self. The old ways. We cling so tightly to them and become so entangled in them that we do not see that they are actually not part of us anymore.
As hard as it was for me to pull the already cut hair from my (thankfully, PRAISE GOD FOR IT) still attached hair it needed to be done.
To those reading this, I want to encourage you. If you have been found in Christ and still struggle with being tangled in sin remember this: it is just a tangle it is not attached. That sin has no hold over God and thus does not have to have any hold over you.
Sure, I am vain. But my vanity has no hold on me unless I keep it close and let it get all tangled up in my new self. I can make the choice to not let it entangle me.
Being pruned hurts. Being stripped away of sinful desires and feelings of entitlement is not pleasant. As I bathed I started with my legs as they have the fewest cuts and bruises, it was my natural instinct to start with the least painful part.
As I began to work my nerve up to cleaning my arms, shoulders, and back I could not help but think, “Though my sins be as scarlet you wash me and make me white as snow.”
Before if you had asked me what that meant I would have said a bloody rag being cleaned. A stain of blood on an article of clothing. A black heart cleaned to crystal clear. Now, to me, it is not a simple matter of being dirty but of being wounded. Being in need of healing.
Washing my cuts and scrapes was unpleasant. If the physical washing of wounds hurts, why do we believe that the spiritual washing of wounds will hold no pain?
Being like Christ is hard. I am in physical pain and sometimes just a movement made to fast makes me want to act as miserable as I feel.
But you know what? That pain is an opportunity.
It is a gift. It is a chance to be holy. By God’s power I can choose righteousness.
I am choosing holiness. I am choosing to not become entangled. I am choosing God because even if His salvation hurts my pride and kills my old self it brings healing.
He is the only voice, the only name, the only power that brings healing. Spiritual. Physical Emotional.
Make no mistake holiness comes at a painful cost. But just as the boy realized his own desperate state and allowed the lion to undress him of his dragon skin (You should read the books on Narnia if you have not, and not watching the movies does not count.) we must lay our lives at Christ’s feet. Not just the easy to clean parts, but the infected, cut up, and bruised parts.
It will hurt but it will heal. And the Bible promises not just a better life but an abundant one.