Cold weather is not my friend. I’m a wimp when it comes to north winds and below freezing temperatures. I’d rather work up a good sweat in 90-degree heat any day of the week. So, driving up to my front yard, full of the neighbor’s trash on a morning cold enough to cancel school, did not bring a smile to my face. Worse yet, was the smile on the face of my dog sitting cheerfully amidst all the garbage. She was in big trouble, with a capital T.
My dear sweet Lilly earned a good tongue lashing from me as I pointed and scolded. She sensed her mistake. Her head drooped, and her smile flipped over as I sentenced her to the garage. After retrieving two garbage bags from the house, I endured the bitter cold and picked up every scrap, while she sat inside – warm and windless. Upon her release from solitary confinement, she went joyfully on her way knowing all had been forgiven. I want to be like Lilly when I grow up.
God drove up to my life many years ago, and found it full of trash. I was born in it, and so were you. Because of sin, we had no choice but to live among the debris. We became so accustomed to the stench we didn’t know we were living in a landfill. However, the long arm of God’s law taught those of us who took time to read it, that we were all in capital T trouble. Yes, we live in a smelly world full of pain, deceit, and evil, but those of us who’ve gotten to know and love Jesus have discovered a fragrance that has become intoxicating. Jesus endured the bitter pain of the cross, and picked up every last scrap of our trash. He has moved it as far away as the east is from the west.
Yet, I fear many still sit in solitary, fearing to come out. They lock themselves inside churches thinking they’ve got to pick up their own trash before they’ll be allowed to come out and play. They’ve got to learn more, do more, and get their act together before God will love them. They’ve allowed the Law to convict them without receiving the grace to release them. “Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.” (Romans 8:5-6, The Message)
You only have to take a glance back at all God has done for you to find the key that opens the door to joyful living. Become like the Matthew 9 blind man, the Mark 1 leper, the Luke 8 man who had demons cast out, or the John 4 woman at the well, and go tell somebody what Jesus has done for you. None of those healed or forgiven by Jesus hung around uncertain of their forgiveness, or longing to understand the science behind their healing. They just knew Jesus had done something incredible, and they couldn’t wait to tell somebody else!
Yes, I want to be more like Lilly. I want to go joyfully, knowing all has been (and continues to be) forgiven.
What’s that I hear outside? I believe it’s Lilly, sharing the story of her disappearing trash for all the world to hear! 🙂