Dog and owner

What to Do When You’re a Massive Mess

You would have thought Sherman was being taken to slaughter. Sherman is our German Shepherd, who weighs as much as I do and has all the energy of a toddler on a sugar rush.

It was snowing outside, which was perfect because Sherman goes nuts chasing snowflakes in the snow, and I needed to get some writing done. After a while, I peeked out to see Sherman prancing around like a massive mud pie with paws. Clearly, I had to get him out of the cold and clean him up.

The only place enclosed and warm enough for this job was my shower. I threw on a bathing suit, determined to get this massive mud ball into the shower as painlessly as possible. Let’s just say getting him into the shower became an Olympic cajoling event. At first I thought a loving tone would coax him in. He didn’t budge.

Then, I tried to reason with him. Becoming more matter of fact, I told him he had two choices—cleaning up could be as pleasant or painful as he wanted, but he WOULD be cleaned up.

He didn’t buy it. Finally, I resorted to the “I sound like my mother” voice, meticulously declaring he was not going to win this war. I pounced over and reached around his mid-section to pick up my willful, woolly ball of mud.

The shower door was a bit of an obstacle; it’s small, all glass, and has a small ledge to step over to get in. It was like squeezing through a keyhole and scaling the Great Wall of China at the same time as Sherman spread his paws, planted them against the glass, and pushed so hard against the door that something was going to break.

After much persistence, I finally shoved him in and showered him down. It was amazing how cooperative he became as the process unfolded; warmed by water and all cleaned up, Sherman became perfectly content.

Our Massive Mess

Our souls are layered like mud on a wet, furry dog . . .

  • Heavy
  • Messy
  • Problematic
  • Complicated

Our passive resistance to allowing Christ to clean up our chaotic, sinful souls can escalate into an all-out fight . . . but we’re just shadow boxing.

Shadow Boxing
Image from Photodune.

Jesus doesn’t fight us; He never forces us to change. However, Jesus does allow our circumstances to become so frustrating or intolerable that our desire to yield grows greater than the impulse to fight.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I was raised in a Christian home—we were in church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. I went to Christian schools my whole life. We took mission trips, took kids on mission trips, memorized books of the Bible, blah, blah, blah.

The biggest problem about that was I “cleaned up” pretty well on the outside, which led me to feel pretty independent as a Christian.

Now, at 49 years of age, I feel like God needs to lead me like a preschooler holding a rope to stay in line on the sidewalk.

There are no “independent” Christians, just those who aren’t quite aware yet of how very dependent they are.

Eventually, God permits us to be faced with something impossible to overcome by ourselves. We encounter obstacles so hard we cannot go on without total dependence upon Jesus Christ, immersion in His timeless Word, and prayer for the Holy Spirit’s empowerment.

Maybe life hasn’t hit you that hard . . . yet. Or maybe you’re not in a place of desperation . . . yet. Or maybe you’ve just avoided your own dirt, by . . .

  • Distracting yourself with staying busy
  • Disconnecting from people who lovingly confront you
  • Devoting yourself to good causes
  • Deeming yourself better than another
  • Debating God, trying to reason your way out of change
  • Doing what seems thoroughly responsible, thinking your “doing” will resolve the issue
  • Deceiving yourself by believing you aren’t the problem

Faith does not rest upon how much we know, how much we do, or how good we think we are.

Deep faith is grown by walking through circumstances that are awfully terrifying, terribly unjust, extremely painful. Faith grows when we face our addictions, let go of comfort, and consistently trust that God’s way is right and His Word is true. Mature faith rests upon and surrenders willingly to God’s perfect hands.

Cleaning Up

David wrote one of the most courageous, terrifying prayers I have read in Psalm 139:23–24.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

To live fully and abundantly in Christ, we must choose to pray these words and to accept God’s plan. David’s word “search” has enormous meaning. He’s basically saying,

Lord, I ask you to dig deeply into my soul. Cut it wide open, examine and illuminate what is broken in me, and remove any part of my life that keeps me from knowing and loving you.

What do we do when life’s messy? We go to the One who loves us unconditionally and can clean us up thoroughly. We have to jump into the shower willingly.

Let Me Hear from You

Pray David’s prayer and allow God to work. The best part is that He gets all the glory. Being cleaned up is incredibly freeing! I don’t write these words lightly; I write them honestly.

What part of this prayer is hardest for you? Let’s talk about that this next week.

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