Are you collecting grime?
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.
— Psalm 51:10 (NLT)
It’s funny how God can speak to us during some of the most mundane things we do. Like today, when I went through the car wash. My car was really dirty — I mean, embarrassingly so. It’s been one of those particularly messy weeks (or two) with snow, rain, wind, and lots of slop on the roads. I kept meaning to get the car washed, but I was just too busy and it’s too cold to be outside washing a car.
As I approached the car wash, I looked around at the other cars in line. Some were in “show room condition” and needed little to restore their beauty. Like mine, others were a real mess. As I waited for the car wash to run through its cycles, I thought how it really doesn’t matter how dirty my car is when I enter; it always comes out nice and clean. It doesn’t matter if I get it washed twice a week or twice a winter; when I pull out, it looks like new.
It dawned on me that this is a lot like worship. When I humble myself before God, recognizing my filth and need for His cleansing, He makes me clean. Like King David, I too can cry out to the Lord, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:2) No matter what I’ve done, how ugly my heart has been, or “sideways” I’ve gotten, when I enter into God’s presence, the precious blood of Jesus washes away my sins, and God sees me as righteous. Unlike a carwash, though, He cleans me from the inside out.
I have to admit there have been too many times in my life when busyness has kept me from spending good quality time with God. The longer the lapses, the more “grime” I seem to collect. I get flustered more easily, feel impatience bubbling up, and am just in general more irritable. If I stay away from my daily routine of Bible study, prayer, and meditation, my heart can get really ugly. Sometimes it doesn’t even take that long. One minute I’m feeling really on track, at peace with God, in a pleasant mood, and focused on God’s will; the next minute I’m plowing through messy circumstances and my attitude shifts. I can too easily focus on the crisis or struggle and lose perspective.
When we see the ugliness in our hearts, but put on a phony smile and try to come across like everything is fine, we become like the Pharisees of old. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Matthew 23:25–26) I need to remember that only God can clean the inside.
There’s no doubt, life can be really messy. I’m so glad that, because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can approach God at any time, anywhere. He may not clean up our circumstances or rescue us from certain consequences, but He takes us just as we are, washes away our sins, and makes us clean. In His presence, we are made new. As we worship Him, He gives us hope, strengthens us and opens our eyes to see things the way He sees things.
Let’s be reminded of The Power of Truth our Lord has provided:
…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
And now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you into his glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy.
Who do you know that might be energized by sending them a copy of this email?
Maybe encouraging them to sign up for these free weekly devotionals might be something you would have in common to discuss on a regular basis?
Jim Grassi, D. Min.