When my boys were little, I really enjoyed when they got super-dirty. Yes, I know. Be counted among the many to call me crazy. I loved when they would stand on the doorstep full of mud from the garden, or sand from the park, pumped with exuberant laughter, or downcast nursing a boo-boo from rambunctious and carefree play. As we would stand together, there was a connection that escapes words; a bond that was so strong and deep, a love so liquid. They’d peel off their dirty shirts, shorts, socks and shoes or sandals, and off to the bath we’d traipse as I’d soak them in the warmth of clean water and gently shampoo and soap, especially behind ears and knees, up back and under fingernails, between toes and around neck and wrists – places they could not see or reach or clean for themselves. Together we’d watch as the umber-colored water would circle down the drain and they’d be towelled off and bedewed with coconut oil. Boys would be dressed, boo-boos would be covered, bathtubs would be spritzed and rinsed, and shirts, shorts, socks and shoes would be soaked and washed. And everything would come out sparkling clean. Ahhhhh. Isn’t that just the best?
“The great thing about dirt is that it washes off!” my husband exclaimed as he came in from another hard day of digging deep in the dirt. Absolutely! I couldn’t agree more! No matter how dirty we are, it all comes off, and we feel lighter, and more energized and refreshed. Granted, some dirt is more difficult to take off than others. Grease. Tar. Wine stains. Sometimes, after a great deal of stress and effort, it all comes out. Sometimes, no amount of stress or effort is enough for it still leaves a ghostly remnant, as if to help recall and warn.
Oh friend! Don’t we all have icky, dusty, greasy and gross, muddy and smelly muck and ghosts of splatter in our hidden parts that to our shame and horror we can never seem to get out, and worse, seems to ooze outward and smudge on others? I certainly do. Just as I think the Gardener and I might have successfully scrubbed out that patch, I see that oops! I still have a small spot over there that just won’t respond to my rubbing, or I’ve streaked the grease and have seemed to make it worse in my carefree (read careless) play. I despair that it will never come out, and shamefaced I try harder to rub the stain and the guilt away. I am like a toddler clumsily and hurriedly trying to clean myself up, and I am fraught with fearful wonder at what else might be in places I cannot see. Mercy! Where do I go now? Should I turn to my Father? If I do, will I find a scowl and shaking finger? A reprimand and a smack? A refusal and a reminder? A tongue-lashing and blistering chewing-out? Dare I confidently bound up the steps as my rambunctious youngsters did, assured of tender love? What will I find if I swallow my fear and suck up the courage to show up on the doorstep?
Liquid Love. Lavish Love. Understanding Love. Unbreakable, Super-glue-bonded-to-you Love. Scoop-you-up-and-squeeze-you-tight Love. I-know-you Love. I-love-you-so-much-I’ve-died-for-you Love. Let-me-love-you Love.
Come to the doorstep. Come in the stress of sleepless and frantic night, in the dawn of desperation and consuming worry, at the noon-day blistering sun of temptation and failure, in the mid-afternoon of painful outburst and laborious trial, at the heavy overcast evening of unjust accusation and brutal condemnation. Come just as you are, where you are. No need to clean yourself up or get it right first. Come and discover the depth and breadth of His unconditional Love, greater than any of us could ever possibly experience on this beautiful earth. Come and be scooped up in His tenderness and exuberant joy. Come and find the Gardener, your King, who bears scars of His sacrifice of Love, who fondly delights in showering and bathing each who stands sooty and grimy with dispirited and confused, wounded and downcast heart. Come and be soaped and rinsed clean in places seen and unseen. Come and be saturated with His oil of blessing. Come and be lavished upon and ravished. Come and be lifted and lighter. Come and be refreshed, renewed and released. Come over and over. Come again and again.
Come. Just come.
Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there his skin was smooth, the leprosy gone. (Luke 5:15, The Message)
“Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”
Matthew 8: 4 (The Message)
Soil and Seed