“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.”
2 Timothy 2:21
Drive down any street, in any community – and you will know what I mean.
You see them a mile away – the folks who keep it clean.
They rake. They weed. They trim and clip and snip and whack and haul away, and their yards show it.
Talk about curb appeal.
And then, there is the ‘environmental disaster’. The weeds are taller than the window frames. Plastic bags are snagged in the decrepit couch on the front yard, but they are hard to see because the grass is so long.
And there is an odd smell coming from a suspicious damp spot out back…
As with yards, so with life. With diligent practice, we can keep a clean property. When we mess up (and we will!), we grab a trash bag, confess it, and haul out anything that smells bad. With bigger oopsies, we may need a shovel and some time to dig out the thought patterns that produced the poor choices. Hard work – but if we care at all about developing the property God gifted us with, it will be worth the investment.
But – what if the previous owners left us with an environmental disaster? Sometimes, our caregivers, ancestors, or people with influence over us may have lived in a way that dumped toxic waste all over our life. Abuse, neglect, addictions, and direct consequences of sinful patterns (think Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) can produce harmful spin-off results that are truly slimy to deal with.
And very, very hard…
These types of environmental disasters are especially difficult to clear up. They stink. They stubbornly stick to everything they touch, infecting surrounding areas with shame and fear and trauma.
Losses like these need to be mourned, acknowledged, and met head on.
And part of the healing will involve the clean-up.
‘Not fair!‘ you scream. ‘I didn’t make this mess! Someone else needs to clear this crap away!‘
I know. It really stinks.
But – this is your property now. This is your life. If you wait for the person responsible to grab a shovel, you will wait until the grave swallows you up – and the mess will have just grown more rank with time.
At some point, you need to decide that your life is worth the clean-up effort, that you are too valuable to live out your days sitting on a toxic waste site. The original sin may not have been of your doing – but the pain it produced likely caused you to pick up some self-protective habits that will lie to keep you stuck in the mud.
And here’s the thing.
God Himself loves you too much to leave you in that mess.
He is waiting with open arms – and a bottle of disinfectant. He will roll up His sleeves and kneel right in that gross filth, just to draw close to your heart. And He will be faithful to help you dislodge the rocks, reroute the sewage, amend the soil, and do the heavy landscaping.
Because His blueprints include a pergola, a rose garden, and a picturesque bench beneath a glorious tree. He knows that when you have properly processed your pain, you see, that the very spaces that were so overgrown with weeds and choked out by toxic fumes will be the spaces with the best light, the deepest peace, and the most profound beauty.
I have spent years digging out an environmental disaster that smelled to high heaven.
And slowly but surely, with God’s blessing, it is becoming a paradise. A place of serenity forged in the fires of pain and trauma. A space of such overwhelming victory that no one would even believe the landfill site that used to exist there!
Know this – there is no mess too deep, no pit so great, no rot so putrid, no cess pool so smelly that the grace and purity and love of God cannot conquer.
Are you going ‘nose blind’ to the fumes you are living with? Have you adjusted to the mess, and given up on owning a pretty property?
Friend, don’t accept less than a fully developed and landscaped lot. Don’t believe the lie that you are stuck and destined to live in the middle of an environmental disaster.
There is hope.
You really can be clean, because Jesus went to the cross to wash you white as snow. And He is in the business of continuing the beautification process, so that you and your life will have that special something.
Trust God to help you with your clean-up process?
Father, thank You that You are in the beautification business! Grant us the courage to face the messes in our lives, the wisdom to know how to work with You to clean them up, and the patience we need as we wait. We want to have curb appeal, to point others to Your grace and glory in our lives! Bless us as we heal and process our pain and losses. Amen.