"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Inside

I'd put too much soap in again.

As I plunged the washcloth into the plastic cup, it squirted out into the other side of the sink.

I began to move the cloth around inside the cup,

Cleaning away the grime.

I always clean the inside first.

Whether it's habit or common sense, I don't know.

After all, the inside of the dish is where the food goes.

The outside hardly gets dirty.

I tell my siblings to do this, too, when they wash dishes,

To make sure the inside gets very clean.

I tell them that Jesus said this, too -

That the inside is what's dirty.

If you clean the inside,

The outside will be clean, too.

The problem is,

I find myself applying this wisdom to dishes so often

That I forget that it was meant to be applied to my life.

When a dear friend shared some of her deepest secrets with me,

It got me thinking about my own secrets,

The things I keep tucked away in the darkest recesses of my own heart.

I spend so much time presenting myself well,

Acting like I'm something I'm not,

Like I'm better than I really am . . .

I am so good at acting like I'm perfect

(Well, as close as humanly possible)

That sometimes I forget I'm not.

I work so hard to clean the outside of the dish,

That I assume the inside is becoming clean as well,

Or maybe even believe that it is clean.

I forget all of the filth I have stored up in there,

All the stuff that's going to take a lot more scrubbing than I'm capable of.

In fact, that might be why I ignore its existence.

I can't control it, so I focus on what I can control -

My outward appearance.

I wipe away the tiny specks from the outside of the dish,

And no one ever sees what's going on in my heart.

As I stand at the sink and piece together all these thoughts,

Start to really look at the state of my heart,

I can see just a glimpse of how ugly I really am,

And I remember sermons and verses

And one night when my friends and I decided to do what we were supposed to,

Split up into groups and started confessing sins,

The deep, dark places of our hearts,

The things we just don't tell people -

Caught up the way we are

(No matter how hard we try not to be)

In this culture -

Even this church culture -

Where we're so occupied with how we look on the outside

(Whether or not we go to church every week,

How much time we spend in prayer,

How much money we give away, . . .)

That we forget that it's the inside of the dish that needs to be clean.

So I decide it's time to do what I should've been doing all along -

Should be doing on a regular basis.

I tip the cup

And let someone else see the mess I really am.

I struggle with things that most Christians think are acceptable -

TV, computer -

Not that I think they're bad, just that I use them too much,

Let them shift my focus away from God.

I can be very mean to my siblings,

Yell far more often than I should,

Not show them the love I feel for them.

I complain about things that don't really matter -

And enjoy it.

I'm a control freak and a perfectionist,

Yet I'm also lazy at the same time.

I make myself appear much more humble than I am,

Don't let anyone know that I struggle with pride and too much self-love.

I run away from those I don't agree with,

Rather than correcting in love

Or agreeing to disagree.

I don't use my imagination the right way,

Thinking up all kinds of dark scenarios,

Even making it a form of idol-worship.

I don't fight the sin in my life enough.

Sometimes, I don't think I really fight it at all.

When I do fight it, I find that I'm losing, and quickly give up.

I don't hate it the way I should.

I don't weep over it the way I should.

I just let it be.


Told you I was dirty -

And that's just the things that are easy to identify.

It's such an abundance of grace and mercy

To know that someOne loves someone as ugly as me

Enough to scrub away the filth that's built up,

The product of my naturally-messed-up heart,

And change me into something so different from what I have been,

Though I still have a long, long way to go.

Almost as beautiful

Is to see that grace and mercy working in someone else,

To know that you can tip the cup

And let them see

And they will never leave your side,

No matter how ugly you really are.

I run clean water over the outside of the plastic cup,

Washing away the suds,

But first I rinse the bubbles out of the inside,

Now shining and white and beautiful.

Acts 19:18

New International Version (NIV)
18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done.

Proverbs 28:13

New International Version (NIV)
13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
    but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

James 5:13-16

New International Version (NIV)
13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

I'm sorry, I was gone a lot this week,

But reasons 1708-1732 today,

Looking at who God is,

Contrasting it with who I am,

Letting it bring a whole new meaning to everything I thought I knew:
  1. He takes people from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appoints them as rulers over His people (1 Chronicles 17:7)
  2. He is with those whom He has chosen wherever they go (1 Chronicles 17:8)
  3. He cuts off all enemies from before the one whom He has chosen (1 Chronicles 17:8)
  4. He makes the name of the one He has chosen like the names of the greatest men on earth (1 Chronicles 17:8)
  5. He provides a place for His people (1 Chronicles 17:9)
  6. He keeps the wicked from oppressing His people (1 Chronicles 17:9-10)
  7. He subdues all the enemies of the one He has chosen (1 Chronicles 17:10)
  8. He raises up the offspring of the one He has chosen (1 Chronicles 17:11)
  9. He does great things for the sake of His servant (1 Chronicles 17:19)
  10. He makes known great promises for the sake of His servant (1 Chronicles 17:19)
  11. He makes known great promises according to His will (1 Chronicles 17:19)
  12. What He blesses is blessed forever (1 Chronicles 17:27)
  13. He gives victory to His servant, wherever His servant goes (1 Chronicles 17:6)
  14. He does what is good in His sight (1 Chronicles 17:13)
  15. He punishes His nation for commands that are evil in His sight (1 Chronicles 21:7)
  16. His mercy is very great (1 Chronicles 21:13)
  17. When He speaks to the angel, the angel puts his sword back into its sheath (1 Chronicles 21:27)
  18. He grants rest to His people (1 Chronicles 23:25)
  19. His wrath comes to His people on account of numbering which He did not approve (1 Chronicles 27:24)
  20. He searches every heart (1 Chronicles 28:9)
  21. He understands every desire (1 Chronicles 28:9)
  22. He understands every thought (1 Chronicles 28:9)
  23. He allows those who seek Him to find Him (1 Chronicles 28:9)
  24. He rejects forever those who forsake Him (1 Chronicles 28:9)
  25. He will not forsake those who do His work until all the work is finished (1 Chronicles 28:20)

(Take the challenge with us!)

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Counting in community:


CynthiaJSwenson said...

It's so good to visit here again Mary! I love how the Lord is leading you to search your heart. I sense a huge revival in your spirit! This is wonderful! Great teaching here! All glory to God! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

Mary said...

Oh, thank you, Cynthia! It was good to visit your blog again, too! Yes, He always manages to lead me to exactly what I need, exactly what He wants me to learn. I sure could use a revival right now, so I hope you're right! I'm so glad He spoke to you through this. Yes, all glory to Him! Love and prayers for you, too, friend!

Christina said...

Thank you for sharing this! Oh how easy it is to clean the outside! And when we compare ourselves to others, we can think we are better than we are. So thankful for grace that gives us the freedom to be imperfect and real because we wear the righteousness of Christ.

Hanna said...

Mary! This is so cool. The Lord is at work because even though it may be easier online, it is still extremely hard to confess sins. And it takes strength that we don't have. Keep taking steps like this! I have to admit that I struggle with many of the same things. many. When you serve the Lord and put yourself second He really gets the glory. So keep serving the Lord in everything that you do Mary! Missed you at the rising last week!

Mary said...

Hello, Christina!

Yes, it's so easy to clean the outside, to think we're doing just fine, though we're really not. It is such grace to have the freedom to be imperfect and real, such grace to be clothed in His righteousness! Yes! So thankful for this!

Thank you for your words. As usual, you've made me think even deeper than I already had. You're such a blessing to me, friend!

Mary said...

Hi, Hanna!!!!! So good to "see" you!

Yes, it's wonderful to see Him at work, how He teaches me exactly what I need to learn (and exactly what I should've learned the last ten times He tried to teach it to me). Yes, it is a little hard, but God's given me such wonderful relationships with the people in this blog world that it felt pretty safe. I really can't do anything without His strength, though, so thank you for reminding me of that.

Oh, I'm trying, but it sure hasn't been easy lately. I'm hoping going back to school will help . . .

I missed you, too! I was abroad and couldn't come. Hopefully next time.

Love you, girl! See you soon!

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