This woman I know had a maid for a while when I was in high school—she had a small herd of children, and it was a little hard to keep up on the housework. So she hired someone to come in twice a week and straighten, sweep, mop, and generally keep the house in order. The thing I remember about it is that she would always try and straighten up the house before the maid came to straighten up the house.
I didn’t get it at the time, but I think I’m beginning to understand now. I think I do that, too.
Somewhere I got the idea that I have to straighten up my life—and my sins—before I approach Jesus with them.
I have to clean up before I ask Jesus to make me clean.
If there’s something I’m struggling with—and there almost always is—I feel like I have to rectify the situation before I can confess it, or at least try to. Then it was OK because I could ask Jesus to help keep me from doing it again. It was easier to ask for forgiveness after the fact.
See, God, I was struggling with this, and this, and this, but I took care of it.
Lust was a problem, Lord. Idolatry, too. And while I’m confessing things, I had a few moments of doubt, as well. Not anymore, though, it’s ok now. So thanks, God.
But here’s the thing.
We don’t have to clean up our lives before we confess anything—Jesus is in the business of making things clean, and new.
Matthew 11 talks about coming to Jesus like this, and it’s pretty clear to me:
28″Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt 11: 28-30
All who are weary and burdened.
And I will give you rest.
Not some, not a few.
All who are weary and burdened.
Jesus never says get your lives in order and come to me. He doesn’t mention that we need to straighten the furniture in our lives and make sure the floor is swept.
He says come to me.
Come to me with all your things in disarray–with your lives and your spirituality as messy as your homes and let me show you how to make them clean.
Come to me with your head filled with noise, and let me quiet your mind.
Come to me covered with the dirt of your journey, and let me wash it away.
Come to me with lies about yourself and who I AM swirling about your head like insects, and let me reveal the truth.
You don’t have to be ready. You don’t need to have it all figured out.
Come to me, as you are.
Come thirsty for truth, and the water that never runs dry.
The truth is, life is messy and it always will be for some people. It certainly is for me. I will never be perfect and don’t want to be.
For me, it is like this: I went my whole life looking for the person I was supposed to be–not in a Karmic sort of way, but in the way that Jesus designed me to be.
When I found that man, he wasn’t at all the person I expected him to be. This is probably a good thing.
All I really want to say I guess is that it is no joke that the presence of Jesus in my life has made me new, but even if it had not, I would have still been accepted as who I was. I was that person when Jesus walked the Green Mile for me.
Jesus is bigger than my doubts about Him and about myself.
I have recently come back into contact with this guy I knew in high school, through the wonders of social media. He wasn’t one of my closest friends back then, but he was a good guy, and as a teenager, one of the most astoundingly good drummers I have ever heard. I can’t imagine how good he might be now.
Anyway, he is also one of the most angry, doubting individuals I have ever crossed paths with. He is very smart, and erudite, and not fond of what he calls “organized religion” at all. I can understand that–there are many more charlatans out there than true bringers of his Word. There are almost as many lies out there as true teachers.
But there is only one truth.
Jesus is Lord.
Now, this gentleman says he is Buddhist, but is unlike any Buddhist I have ever heard of, and whether he realizes it or not, full of anger at God. I find myself in the awkward position of explaining things to him in a way that does justice to God and to my faith. I find myself somewhat intimidated by the responsibility.
I do not plan to preach to this Gentleman, and point fingers, and tell him about the dangers of falseness.
I plan to tell him about truth instead. I plan to tell him–if he’ll listen–about what Truth has brought about in my life, and about the person I used to be verses the person I am now.
I will not do the injustice to Jesus of being vague about what He has done in my life.
I am here now because of his sufferance.
I live, and move, and breath, because He restored my soul, and changed me utterly, from the inside out.
I am not the same, and I am glad. Peace about myself is a wonderful thing.