Today, I found myself just standing in front of the washing machine lost in thought as I watched a load of clothes swirling around. At first I was just "out of it", lost in another world, as my thoughts were swirling around just like those clothes. My head was working "through" unexpected thoughts I had just shared with a friend in a text message. I was going over what I had said about some areas that God was leading me to release to Him.
As I stood there, I began to think about those clothes and how they relate to our spiritual lives.
We wear clothes and they get soiled. Some just a bit and others disgustingly so. If you have boys in your life, they mostly all will fall in the later category! :)
Life is like that. Our hearts are like that.
They get stained. They get dingy. They get worn out, stretched out, and in need of refreshing.
Sometimes I get angry or bitter towards God, though I know that's wrong in itself and a matter my heart still needs to work through on many levels. I think of how sometimes life just gets hard. Nothing comes easy it seems.
I may have friends that on the outside look like they have it all together. Finances never seem to be an issue to them. They can travel around the world often and do. They can give their children the best of everything. They just don't ever have to really consider something as crucial as planning meals just so that you know there is enough money in the bank account to cover the ingredients---they can "do" and "go". There may be friends that just always seem to have a great support system when hard times hit. They don't ever seem to have to feel alone or have to struggle to balance things because they have a massive amount of people that will drop everything when they are in need. There may be friends that are from families that are intact and relationships aren't strained. Friends with abundant talent. Friends that look straight from a magazine. Etc..., etc...
I can take those feelings of improperly placed jealousy and bitterness and let it get the best of me. I can let those things bubble out of me to the point that I can't see the gifts and blessings right in front of me.
I can get irritated at God and wonder why in the world life can't be "easy" for us. After all, I try hard. I do my best to live a life pleasing to Him. Therefore, shouldn't life be easy.
Simply put, NO.
It doesn't work that way.
Struggles actually keep me pointed towards Him. Seeking Him. Needing Him. Unable to rely on myself.
That load of laundry in the washing machine just didn't sit there.
To get clean, it had to be agitated, tossed around, rubbed the wrong way. It had to be subjected to hot or cold water---not just a comfortable temperature. As a watched a specific article of clothing go into the water and agitate around in a specific pattern before coming back up to start the entire cycle again, I thought of how I'm in the same cycle.
Dunked into the hot water (or cold). Swirled around and around. Tossed and agitated. Rubbed. Subjected to deep cleaning. All before I can come up for air again, barely catch my breath and then the cycle begins again.
For my heart to be clean and to be growing in Him, I have to continuously go through a refining process. Clothes don't get clean just sitting in the laundry basket (contrary to the belief of my children!). God can't shape me into His vision if I'm constantly living a comfortable, easy life. Though clothes sometimes need to soak in water for stubborn stains, for the most part the cleaning process takes places through a pushing, pulling, tugging process. An active process. My heart and life are the same. I can't expect to grow in Him or become more of the woman He wants me to be, passively. I can't just sit in one spot and expect that growth process to just happen without some effort. Without some moments of struggle. Without some pain.
Oh, how He loves me (and you!). Oh, how He wants the best for us. He loves us so much that He doesn't want us just sitting around in our own filth.
Sometimes that growth and change of heart can come quickly and easily. Sometimes situations can quickly shape us and refine us.
It doesn't come from our comfort. It doesn't come from just observation.
We have to let ourselves be subjected to the hot waters. The cold water. The dunking and twirling. The swirling around.
Just like a load of clothes can come out fresh and clean---after the process of being washed, heated, and folded----so can we.
He alone makes us clean. It's not from something we do or don't do. It's purely by His mercy and grace and SACRIFICE for our sins that we are made spotless in His sight.
But we also require some daily refreshing...soil removal...sprucing up.
To keep growing in Him---finding out more of what His purpose for us is---we have to go through that not so easy process of refining.
As I find myself, DEEP in that refining process as He's shown my heart some changes He wants and some different directions, I *want* to just skip the cleaning process. I want to just skip over the hard stuff and get straight to the victory.
It doesn't work that way.
Just like those clothes I watched today...
I will be twisted, agitated, swirled, knocked around...
In the end...
I'll be like that freshly washed basket of laundry waiting to be put away. Clean. Refreshed. Renewed. Ready to be used by Him.
The process becomes much more worth it when you see a glimpse of the end. What lies ahead!