This morning, I had time to sit on the couch, spoil a cat and read. It was a toasty, comfy, wonderful way to have my last cup of coffee before venturing out into the icy cold rain. (Literally “ice” and rain. UGH.)
I was grateful for those few extra minutes of reflection. As I finished up, I ended my prayer time with a quick phrase, just off the top of my head. Nothing profound; something like, “Lord, get my attention today.”
Well. You know God doesn’t let a prayer like that go unanswered.
I had a day of errands and meetings. Nothing earth-shattering but they were things I had postponed to the end of the week because it has been so blinking cold. And as I walked out to get in the car, I saw this:
The rest of the shovelled piles of half-melted snow, neatly draining away…
I was glad they were melting, particularly since the driveway and steps were covered with little frozen “beads” of raindrops. It is January after all. Winter weather is kind of expected. (I’ll permit all of you who live where it really snows to growl and gnash your teeth at me. As you were…)
I noted as I drove to my appointment that the only place I could see snow on the ground was on untreated surfaces and in places where where it had been allowed to pile up.
“…where it had been allowed to pile up…”
That phrase came back to me as I thought about places where I’ve let issues get “piled up” in my life. How losing weight is harder since I’ve let it sit on my body for so long. How changing habits related to studying and writing requires a crazy amount of effort to get over the inertia of just starting, for Pete’s sake! How “the sin that trips us up” (Hebrew 12:1b) takes so much diligence!!
But progress is being made and I’m grateful. Eensy-teensy steps forward…
My star word for the year is VITALITY. And so I’ve been thinking about what that means for me in every area of my life. I’ve been filling out a “SMARTER” goal chart and doing some self-evaluation. All good stuff. And necessary.
EXCEPT… I was allowing myself to feel pretty good about “how I’m doing.” You know, thoughts like “well, I’m not as bad as I was!” Or… “At least I don’t struggle with ________ like s/he does!”
And then I saw this:
I asked God to get my attention. And this did.
I have been reading about the process of sanctification, perseverance and spiritual growth. Pondering how it all ‘works’ and digging through my own goals for 2014. And, truth be told, maybe feeling a little too comfortable with “how I’m doing.”
A big, ugly, discolored, stubborn pile of snow. That’s what sin really looks like. Not neatly shoveled snow piles on one side of the driveway, but big old, stained, discolored mounds of ugly. It’s not the kind of “snow” you think of when you think of being “pure as the driven snow.” It’s ironic that this was the picture God showed me, because I know all too well the verse from Isaiah 1:18:
“Come now, and let’s settle this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they will be white as snow.
If they are red as crimson,
they will become like wool.”
In my self-righteous or perhaps (if I want to be kind to myself) self-deluded way, I had pegged myself as “not doing that badly.” When really, ugly is ugly. Sin is sin. There’s quite a list of “what has to go” towards truly having VITALITY in my life.
The glorious truth though, about faith, confession, repentance and forgiveness is that God really and truly does wash it all away. Because I am pristine, loved and lifted out of that mucky, mushy, icy mess that I think “isn’t so bad.”
Thanks be to God.