Friday, February 8, 2013

A Messy Sink...A Messy, Forgiven Life

     The last of the dishes had been rinsed and placed neatly into the dishwasher.  The detergent had been added and the start button pressed.  As I listened to the dishwasher sing out it's familiar hum; water sloshing about, I turned my attention to the sink.  I have to admit, I was a little repulsed by the sight of half-chewed food pieces littered across the bottom of the sink, the moldy and now unrecognizable meal from two weeks ago (maybe more) that had mysteriously resurfaced at the front of my refrigerator, and the half-burnt remnants scraped off of the bottom of my favorite cast iron skillet.  Pausing for a moment, I contemplated whether or not it was really a wise idea for me to stick my hands into the nasty conglomeration of what I felt sure was a bacteria infested mess.  Thinking through the alternatives, I leaned over and grabbed a long plastic spoon reasoning it would do a more effective job at shoving the food remains down into the garbage disposal shoot than my delicate fingers would.  Feeling quite satisfied with my brilliant idea, I proceeded to push the bits and pieces of God knows what into the narrow opening of the disposer.

    Resting the spoon on the edge of the sink for a moment, I reached over, flipped the "magic switch", and watched in wonder as the large chunks of nastiness slowly became pulverized and sucked deeply into the belly of the disposer.  When I was quite satisfied that nothing remained of the bacteria ridden mess that had once covered the bottom of the sink, I flipped the "magic switch" back to the off position.  Suddenly, I questioned, "What happens to the pulverized muck once it is sucked downward into the pipes?  Where does all of the garbage that once littered my sink end up?"  (Come on, I know that secretly, all of you have wondered the same thing...there is no shame in admitting it:))

     Suddenly, my attention was quickly arrested and refocused, bringing to mind the truth that, like the sink, I have a lot of trash and garbage in my life; the truth that not of single one of us is capable of living up to God's perfect, just standards.  Our lives are just plain messy, right?...littered with sin. 

Scripture says:

 “ for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” 
                                                             (Rom.  3:23).  

     Staring at the now empty sink, still stained with the grotesque reminder of what was once there, I thought of another question; one of eternal significance:
 "Where does all of the "garbage" or sin in my life end up?."  

      Am I the only one who has ever wondered this?  Am I the only one who has felt enslaved by the mounting measure of sin piling up, bringing with it haunting memories of regret and condemnation?  I doubt it...

      Grabbing the spray bottle filled with my favorite homemade antibacterial cleaner (Grapefruit Seed Extract, vinegar, a few drops of tea tree oil, and water), I intentionally sprayed a thick coating onto the bottom and sides of the sink.  Despite the fact that I couldn't see any remaining germs or bacteria, I knew from science class that microscopic and nasty germs were still there, no matter how much I wanted to convince myself that they were not.  Slowly and methodically I scrubbed, making certain not to miss a single spot.  As I watched the small steam of water from the faucet above slapping gently against the bottom of the now sparkly stainless steel sink, a gentle whisper swept past..a whisper filled with grace-filled words, lovingly surrounding me with hope and peace ...

..."as far as the east is from the west,
 so far do I  remove your transgressions, child."... 
                                  (taken from Psalm 103:12)

..."If you confess your sins, 
 I am faithful and just to forgive you 
and cleanse you from all unrighteousness"...
                                (taken from 1 John 1:9)

..."I will again have compassion on you, Satin;
I will tread your iniquities underfoot.
and cast all your sins into the depths of the sea."...
                                 (taken from Micah 7:19) 

 ..."I will forgive you for the wicked things you've done,
 and I will remember your sins no more.”...

                                 (taken from Heb.  8:12)

..."And you, who were dead in your trespasses...
 I made alive...having forgiven you all your trespasses,   
by canceling the record of debt that stood against you with its legal demands. This I set aside, nailing them to the cross."...
                                  (taken from Colossians 2:13-14)

      Turning off the faucet, I watched the last few trickles of water spiral down, gliding across the now clean surface below..and I smiled...not because my sink was finally free of the awful germ infestation that once had the upper hand; for I knew that soon half-eaten particles of food, clumps of mystery casserole from several weeks back, and burnt chunks scraped off of my favorite skillet would once again litter the bottom.  No... 

I smiled knowing with full assurance that all of the garbage (sin) of my life has been  
                                  thrown far away;
           buried deeply 
into the depths of the sea    

Thursday, February 7, 2013

God's Amazing, Sustaining Grace

     With a slight chill in the morning air and the blanket of darkness beginning to be swallowed up by the light of day, I opened my eyes...eager to see what this day might bring.  I sat up, swung my legs off the edge of the bed, and used my toes to feel around for the cozy Muk Luks that I knew must be within toe's reach.  After slipping my feet into the warm woven slippers, slowly, I made my way to the living room (the hub of all activity in the Marshall home) to greet the children with their usual hugs, kisses, and breakfast orders.  As I reached the living room, however, the vision of happy, smiling children ready to greet me with a kiss was quickly replaced with the reality of what really faced me on this morning...scattered piles of unfolded laundry from the previous day, two sick children stretched out upon the couch burning hot with fever, toys covering most of the floor like a creeping fungus, and the repulsive smell of yesterday's garbage reeking from the nearby trash.  In an instant, the eagerness that I had felt just moments before was replaced by a feeling of dread of what the day would surely bring. 

     Fighting the temptation to fall haphazardly upon the floor and weep bitterly, I sighed, rather ashamed by my approaching emotional meltdown.  "How is it that my circumstances have such a powerful influence over my emotions?"  With eyes tightly shut, I attempted to drown out the scene that had almost led to my emotional unraveling...  

         ..."My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is   made perfect in weakness."  
 Over and over again, I repeated it.  Then, God so kindly brought still other verses to mind...   
       ..."But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus," (Philippians 4:19)...
       ..."He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows," (Isaiah 55:4).

     As I slowly opened my eyes, I could feel the truth of God's words sinking deeply into my being.  Before me, still sat the same piles of scattered laundry, the same two fever stricken children, the same toys littering the floor, and the same repulsive smell of yesterday's garbage; yet, at that moment, His grace was visible to me.   
And now, by God's grace, I no longer dread what this day will bring, but I now eagerly await more and more of HIS sustaining grace.  

Maybe right at this very moment, you are suffering from a long-standing illness that leaves you feeling weak and in constant pain...friend, God's grace is expedient enough to heal and prolonged enough to supply for each difficult day that you may face.

Maybe resources are scarce and you wonder how you can possibly create a meal for your family out of the three remaining ingredients in your cupboard...friend, God's grace is bountiful enough to provide for you and your family.

Whatever circumstance you may be facing this day...May you eagerly await more and more of God's amazing, sustaining grace.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Humility of Helplessness

Since Sunday, Isaac has been lying in the same recliner, with the same fever, and the same fits of coughing which redden his face and leave him fighting to catch a breath.  
I feel helpless to help him. 
He reads the expression on my face...I read the expression on his. 
He feels helpless too.  

Crying and scared, the girls call out to me from their beds.  Through sounds of whimpering and sniffing they share, "We can't sleep, Mommy.  We are so afraid."  Patting their heads, I say a quick prayer and tell them that God is with them every moment; therefore, they don't need to be afraid.   "But, we keep having scary thoughts that won't go away."  
I feel helpless to help them.
"What if we have bad dreams after we fall asleep?" 
They feel helpless too.

Eyes red with fatigue and body sore with exhaustion, David exhales. I snuggle up next to him and wrap my arms around his chest. "It's just been a crazy, busy week.  Sometimes it just seems impossible to get everything at work done on time."   
I feel helpless to help him.
He kisses me softly on the forehead, sighing again. 
He feels helpless too.

I pause, my head tucked neatly in my hands...thoughts aimlessly spinning and racing through my mind.  Then, like a gentle rain, giving refreshment to the wilted flowers, I feel HIS words raining down upon me, giving refreshment and nourishment to my soul.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I slowly walk into the room where Isaac lies sleeping peacefully, free of coughing fits and gasping for air for a time.  Feeling his forehead, I whisper softly,  

"HIS grace is sufficient for you too, Isaac.  
HIS power is made perfect in your weakness."

I make my way to the girls room.  Their pillows still damp with remnants of tears, their bodies curled up in little, tight balls; I cover them.  Softly, I whisper, 

"HIS grace is sufficient for you too, girls.  
HIS power is made perfect in your weakness."

"I crawl into bed and turn towards David.  In the quietness of the room, I hear him breathing deeply, another days work has passed.  Another days problems have passed too. Reaching out, I gently touch his hand and whisper softly, 

"HIS grace is sufficient for you too, David. 
HIS power is made perfect in your weakness."

I roll over, close my eyes, and meditate on HIS words once more....  
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
One last thought comes to mind... 
Thank you, LORD, for my helplessness!

"Only in the humility of helplessness will we discover the sufficiency of His presence." Charles Stanley