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Dragged Out of the Mud

Dang! I’m not as perfect as I thought I was. Wait! What am I saying? I mean everything is fine. Nothing to see here. Just move along. Yes, if you were in my shoes, you might discover you were a raging monster too.

Dustballs in the corners, toys and un-toys strewn across the house, continuous nagging, defiant rebellion, screaming and crying and the long-past sleepless nights have all burned away a layer of goodness that I was sure I had. That’s what a good trial will do to you: show you what’s beneath. And this “trial” is merely the common experience of motherhood. I have it quite easy, which is probably why I’ve been able to continue believing myself rather good for so long.

I suppose it is the curse of the rich. We can keep our darker selves at bay with tasty food, trendy clothes, luxurious homes, and lengthy insurance policies. And here I thought that low income people could behave themselves if only they tried harder. Yes, if I were in their shoes, I might discover I was a raging monster too. Wait a second. I already am.

When things are under control—little people are getting along relatively well and the house is somewhat tidy—I find myself slipping back into the old way of thinking. “Okay, I’ve got this together. I’m doing pretty well. I haven’t yelled at anyone today. I have good thoughts about my husband. I must be an asset to God today.”

But when things fall apart, I find myself wallowing in the mud. “I’m a failure. I just brooded all evening about my husband. And I spanked the children out of anger, and I hate our neighbors, and this stupid house needs new flooring. God must be ashamed of me. I’m a useless corrupt Christian.”

I look back on the days before kids when I thought I was a gift to the world, and I see now that I was actually selfish and ungrateful. I just didn’t know it yet. Perhaps in the future I will look back on these days and think how self-righteous I was. And perhaps in heaven I will look back on this entire life and say, “What a silly goose I was!”

Because it's all a waddling through the mud. The days that I think I'm pretty good are just a waddling through the mud towards God. And the days that I think I’m a disgrace are also just a waddling through the mud towards God. Is any deed untainted? All this effort and splashing and falling facedown? Is this my spiritual offering, holy and acceptable to God? Is this the new creation?

I think there must be a missing piece here. For certainly my "successes" and "failures" at living like Christ are different than an atheist's attempts at goodness. Indeed, we are both in the mud making quite a mess, but God has lassoed me with his lifeline and is reeling me in towards himself. Yes, and all my attempts at goodness, tainted and selfish as they may be, are in fact moving me towards God because of that rope around my waist and the irresistible pull beaconing me on. 

Without the lasso all my attempts towards God would simply sink me further down in the mud. But with the rope around me and my life-dependent grip on it, I'm really getting somewhere. Muddy, yes. It's all mud. And someone might look at me and say that I am just as muddy as a pagan, but it wouldn't matter. I'm being reeled in, and my knuckles are turning white as I grip this rope harder now than ever. Looking at the grassy bank ahead of me. Looking at my savior who is pulling me ever so hard.

And when I reach that grassy bank and leave behind this mud hole, God will ironically say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Here are clean clothes. Let us leap on the hillsides and move unhindered like I made you to move."


"If you are a good worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don't call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it's something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift." (Romans 4:4-5 MSG)

Comments

Your most profound writing to my heart yet.
Grandma Seelye said…
Wow, this is very profound! I sure didn't see any mud on you the day you installed my dishwasher! Or any other time for that matter.Thanks again for that labor of love! Blessings on you!
Unknown said…
So good! It's a great reminder that all our efforts are filthy rags, but He loves us ever more deeply and yet couldn't love us more. It's...mind boggling. :) Thanks for sharing!!
Unknown said…
Love this! I can relate wholeheartedly!

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