Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yard Work and Heart Conditions

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees.
 For you are like whitewashed tombs—
beautiful on the outside
but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.  
Outwardly you look like righteous people,
but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness."
 Matthew 23:27-28 NLT
Today as the crisp and beautiful fall air was blowing I decided that today might be the last warm-ish day in the Midwest. I gathered my outdoor tools and began to cut hydrangeas and rake up the leaves that covered the front lawn. I worked hard. I was sweaty. I was sore and really, really tired when all was said and done. I walked around and looked at the back yard and said, "Meh, it can wait, no one will see it anyway."
Before I could put away all of my lawn care items I was convicted. 
See, it was a good day. At least, it was after a recovery from my two-year-old deciding to take the dog for  a walk without a leash and by herself.  She wanted a pile of leaves and then changed her mind without telling me. But that is besides the point. AFTER all that drama, it was a good day. Even still, God caught me while I did my home ownership duties.
I began to wonder about our own lives. Much like my attitude to my lawn, no one sees the back, but the front, no- the front must be spiffy. Is this my life? The outside must look spiffy even if the parts of me no one can see are a mess.
Psalm 51:6 says, "Behold, you desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part you will make me know wisdom." Time and time again the word reminds us to check our self at the door. "Before you open your mouth, check out what is in your eyeball there." That, of course, was my own paraphrase of Matthew 7:5. Jesus also goes as far as say in Matthew 28 that if you think in your head about a woman you might as well have slept with her, because he judges it the same. Again, my own paraphrase.
See what he did there? He says, "I see what you do behind closed doors, I see your heart, the things you hide, and you might as well be public about it." However, God loves us, even in our mess. He came for the mess, the sick, the hidden, the yuck. He died for that. The broken, bruised, and burdened. 
Much like my back yard, I had to really examine my life at that moment. Is my private life lining up with scripture? What I say, is that what I do? What I do, is that what I say? Is my public Kirsten matching up with my private Kirsten?
1 Samuel 16:7 says it like it is, "But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at the way he looks on the outside or how tall he is, because I have not chosen him. For the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. A man looks at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.” We try so hard to have our houses in order, our bodies in shape, and our worship deeds public. Who does not envy the put together person?
We love that dad, so devoted to his kids and his wife. We don't see an addiction to porn or anger.
We love that mom. So thin, energetic, and crafty. We don't see her battle with an eating disorder.
We love that family member. Their new car, their new house, their new, thing. We don't see the battle with debt. Instead of supporting each other in the hard secrets, we are supporting these false ideas we have of each other in our perfection. Community with other believers is essential in maintaining a realistic vision of our self. Even more so, a relationship lived in submission and constant repentance will keep your dirtiest parts of you open with God.
Oh, this is painfully hard. Our earthly bodies want so badly to be strong, dedicated, and put together on our own. Most of all, we want our efforts to be noticed. When we begin to know Christ, we have to admit that apart from him, we are nothing more than a messy back yard full of  molding leaves and massive Goldendoodle poops waiting to be squashed into the bottom of God's shoe. It's humbling. So badly we crave that God would use the front, freshly painted, churched, showered, and Bible read front door. We never want him to walk in on us as we are scraping up the mess from our lives and off the bottom of our shoes. We panic at the thought that God might enter in as we are in that messy place and we scatter trying to find that excuse for being there, again.
The beauty of this truth is in the fact that God came for you. God came for me. Like the woman at the well, the dead girl in bed, Lazarus, and the blind man-- these are the few examples of the painful places that he went to get them. He sought them out there and said, "I got this." I can only imagine the mom of that little girl. Jesus is walking into her home to save the life of her child. I doubt she cared much about if her house smelled okay, or if she made the bed today, and if her clothes matched. I bet she was beside herself that her daughter was coming back to her again and believed that Jesus was about to do something great. He does not want us to hide our mess and be perfect before we go to him. He wants us right now, right here, just as we are!
Let us be like that with God. Let us open our person regardless of what is in there and say, "God, take it. Take me. Help me do this over. Thank you for loving me despite all of this decay I hide. Make me prettier on the inside in your sight." He sees our hidden parts and the beauty about it all is that he wants to take your pain from you so you can live whole, so you can be made new, and shine his glory. Instead of our lives saying, "Oh-oh-oh, don't mind the mess I haven't gotten there yet..." God can make our mess speak for him. Our mess can say to the world, "Look where I was, look where God brought me. He wants that for you, too."
Will I clean up my back yard tomorrow? Nope. Nope I won't. After a full day outside, the inside of my home could use some cleaning up. This may also be true to the inside of me at the same time.

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