I should not have been working to dig holes in the mud this weekend.
Why? Let me explain.
Reason Number One: It was Sunday, my only day off after a very long week of child-wrangling, dumpling-folding, pan-scrubbing, house-decluttering, food-prepping, and word-working. As a family we had decided to do nothing all day besides church, with no other work going on.
Reason Number Dos: We had no plans for working outside in the yard. At all. All the fence-posts have been in for ages, nothing needs to be planted in the front yard, no one mows this time of year, there are no mesquite trees to evict, and it’s not even time for me to clear out my garden for next year! (Well, technically it probably is, but I’m going to pretend it’s not) Nothing involving shovels, gloves, or holes should have been going on.
And finally, Reason Number III, (which is truly and honestly the only real, actual reason on this list that isn’t just me being dramatic for the sake of story-telling): There shouldn’t have been any mud.
Literally, there should be no mud in our yard.
We’re in West Texas, and though it did technically snow the other day, it lasted for all of about an hour and had the ground slight damp for only a bit longer than that. My cactus-y backyard, in the middle of winter, in the middle of West Texas, should be completely dry and mud-free.
And so when you walk outside to find a small lake in your backyard, there’s probably a problem.
So yes, one of our pipes burst, and my brother and I spent the whole afternoon digging in the mud to find and fix the problem. Now, honestly, I didn’t really mind. It was nice outside, wet dirt is much easier to scoop, I rather enjoy work, and the strong-willed side of me was proud of being able to dig out large swatches of pipe by myself while my brother drove to town to get the parts we needed.
But I got completely covered in mud. I had mud on my gloves, mud on my arms, mud on my shirt, mud on my jeans, and enough mud on my boots to start a whole field on Mars. And not dry mud, but that soft, gooey, grey mud that is wet and sticky (but actually felt nice and cool in the sun).
I got completely covered in mud, except for one place. My hands.
Because even though I was digging and shoveling and scooping out water, I had gloves on. And those gloves, although covered in an inch of mud themselves, protected my hands from it. Oh, my hands got a little damp, but they were still clean, and would dry off in a few moments. I could slip those gloves off and grab a drink of water without getting so much as dust in it.
But without those gloves, my hands would have been completely sullied and soaked.
And I was reminded that life often has so many muddy situations. Pipes aren’t the only things that crack. Just one moment — and lives, relationships, people, can be shattered by the pressure of this world.
That dreaded phone call.
That bad report.
Those harsh words.
Every sickening crunch, every deafening silence, every angry shout; so much pain, so much pressure, so much strain — is it any wonder that there has bubbled up all this anger, all this hate, all this vitriol, into a poisonous lake?
Because this world hurts. This world is hard. And this world is so dirty, with our wrongs, with our horrors, with our hate. This stick-gooey mud clings to every part of us, covering all and sucking us downward.
But Jesus can make and keep us clean.
Because Christ covers His children, protecting them from sin of the world. But He does this by getting covered Himself. He made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5:21) Jesus took the pain. He took the dirt. Every sin, every scream, every sickness, every strain; He shouldered it. He didn’t have to. He didn’t need to. God Himself, coming down and becoming the exact opposite of Himself for little pathetic rebels? Nonsense!
But He did.
And thus He can keep us clean from the mud of this world.
Now, Christians still suffer wrongs. Christians still slip up. Christians still lose jobs, lose friends, have tragedies. But those aren’t permanent anymore. They’ll dry off quickly. I once heard a speaker say “Christians have external sorrows, but essential joy.” It’s part of us, that can’t be swayed or changed. Because all these present sorrows are nothing in comparison to our everlasting joy.
Because Christ took our sorrow, that our joy might be full. (John 15:11) Christ took our death that we might have life, and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) Christ took our pain, that we might have gain.
So we don’t have to stress when we’re digging through the muddy mess of life. Because Jesus covers us, taking all the yucky, muddy dirtiness upon Himself, that we might be clean.
And the funny thing is, the only thing that got on my hands was a bit of an orange tint. The color of the gloves. So let us choose to do the same, taking on the color of Jesus, being every day more and more like Him.
Note: This post was supposed to be a beginning of a new series thinking about the little stories in life, because I love analogies and need to be reminded how everything in life circles back to the Gospel. The series title was supposed to be ” Short Snippets.”
But, well… *cough* *sheepish grin* Short is not my specialty. At all.
So, while I’ll have to come up with a new name that encapsulates “little-stories-in-life-which-I-will-draw-out-and-draw-parallels-to-in-about-800-words-which-is-technically-shorter-than-my-normal-posts”; I hope that we can start looking at all the little moments in our lives as quests, as missions, as stories, that help us to run ever harder after Jesus.