One time when my children were still small, our family came out of the house to go to Sunday morning church. As I turned to close the door, our small dog bolted out and ran across the yard. We were late, and I didn’t have the time for that kind of nonsense.
Impatient, I took off across the yard yelling at our dog, which was on a mission to escape me. As I chased him down a slight slope, my foot hit a slick spot on the grass, which was still covered with morning dew. Down I went. Not just to the ground, but also down the hill … all the way down the hill the rolling reverend went. By the time I reached the bottom, I had mud and grass stains all over my clothes.
When I stood up, I came to an instant realization of four things: 1. I wanted that dog to die. Now. 2. My family, laughing hysterically, didn’t understand one iota about Christian compassion. 3. I could say the word I heard coming out of my mouth with zeal and absolutely with no fear that my mother was around to punish me for saying it. 4. I looked filthy dirty.
The immediate challenge at the moment was number 4. I had dirt all over me, and I should have been leaving for church ten minutes earlier. I’m not a dirty person by nature, but I was covered in dirt at that moment — in more ways than one. What I needed was immediate personal hygiene to get the dirt off me so I could move on toward the plan already in place for the morning.
Do you ever get dirt on you? We all blow it at times, but that doesn’t change the fact that, at the core of your being, you are clean – through and through. You may have dirt on you at moments but it certainly doesn’t define you.
A good illustration of this happened one time with Jesus and His disciples when they were in the upper room together. He was about to wash the feet of the disciples. Peter protested over Jesus assuming such a lowly position of servant-hood and said to Him, “There is no way I’m going to let you wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If you don’t you won’t be involved in the plan I have in mind.” Peter then blurted out, “Then go for it! Wash me from head to toe! I’m in!”
Jesus’ response to Peter here is instructive. He was saying to him, “It’s not that you are filthy. You’ve been bathed by My grace but right now you have dirt on your feet (your walk) that needs to come off. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Just let me rid you of it. It’s that simple.”
Jesus wanted Peter to see that it’s not that he was a dirty person. He simply had dirt on him at that moment, dirt that needed to be wiped off. There is a big difference between the two. Do you see it? Just because you sometimes get dirt (sinful thoughts, feelings, or even actions) on you doesn’t mean that you’ve morphed into a dirty person.
I’m not minimizing the seriousness of “getting dirty” here. Nobody enjoys the aftereffect of a roll in the dirt. The point I’m making is, you don’t have to let it wreck your life by believing you’re a bad person. Don’t cheat yourself out of the thrill of living in the carefree abandon of faith. Get up. Shake it off and keep moving forward.