The other day I was scrubbing the remnants of food off a pan. It was just an ordinary day, and a mundane task. When there is food scum built up on dishes, the effort to remove this mark from the pan can take some time and effort. If the food has been left to sit for too long, perhaps for days, there may be some intense scrubbing needed. The abrasiveness may be painful to both the pan and the scrubber who is tasked with the challenge. However, the end result is a, hopefully, clean pan. Often, in moments like these I sense God speaking to me.
I don’t think God enjoys seeing us covered by the dark things that build up in our lives be it emotional baggage, physical ailments, grief or any other sort of malady that may affect our lives. From my experience of God, I believe he wants to see us sparkling with joy. When trials come our way, he attempts to help us remove the grit to reveal the hope and freshness underneath.
As humans, sometimes we resist the process of getting rid of the grit. I know I myself have been guilty of basking in the scum, thinking, “Oh no, poor me! Look at this mess,” and in the midst of my grit, I have found myself resisting God’s divine intervention. Perhaps it is out of fear or perhaps it is just plain old stubbornness. Maybe I am too used to this state of being and find pure joy an unknown territory of grit.
We live in a world full of doomsday headlines and criticisms from many directions. We come to accept this negativity, this layer of scum, if you will, as normal. Yet, at the same time, when we ask someone “How are you?” we cross our fingers and hope they say, “Fine,” so we don’t have to listen to a tirade of ailments. At the same time, we tell everyone we are fine, when we truly are not. This lie leads to isolation and a feeling that no one “gets us.”
Our Creator gets us. Psalm 139: 13 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Though God understands every bit of scum on us and loves us just the same, we struggle to understand ourselves and to love ourselves, and this struggle affects our relationships with other people.
We have to embrace God, run freely to his arms and allow ourselves to be accepted by him. When we realize that he loves us amidst all the layer of grime, our hearts are fundamentally moved. This realization causes our hearts to become tender and loving. In turn, we become tender and loving first to ourselves and then to other people.
We have allowed our hearts to be covered by the words and actions of others, instead of by the words and actions of God. With each layer of grime that he takes off our hearts, we shine forth a radiant light. His love, so pure and so deep beckons to us. It sings,
“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love . . . ”
The love that God has for us never ceases to boggle my mind.
Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Wine attends University Friends Meeting in Wichita, KS. She received her Masters of Social Work from Wichita State University, and currently provides play therapy services at an elementary school. Additionally, she works part-time at her meeting as Director of Children’s Ministry.