Last evening I had a dream. Nothing most would think memorable enough to remember or certainly record, yet as I awoke, I was impressed with a thought that made the dream meaningful and very worth telling. I was outside on a lovely day, dressed in casual clothing but wearing a new pair of brilliant white tennis shoes. As I looked down at those shoes before beginning my walk, I noted how clean they were, and how much I was enjoying their spotless whiteness.
However, as I walked down the dusty, pebble strewn path, I began to notice that all too quickly my shoes were no longer that brilliant, spotless white I had enjoyed at the beginning of my jaunt, but were now suddenly not only a dirty brown, but were spotted deeply with dirt and grime. A feeling of disappointment filled me as I looked down at my now “worn and dirty” shoes.
As dreams can quickly change, I soon found myself in a rain storm – needing to wade through deep puddles, getting my new but very dirty shoes soaking wet. To my astonishment, as I waded further and further, my dirty shoes were cleansed by the running water, and became once again a brilliant, clean, white! Then I awoke.
As I pondered this simple dream in my waking fogginess, a thought occurred to me. Being clean feels very good. Being dirty doesn’t. Tagged onto that thought was – when Jesus enters our lives, one of the very first gifts he gives is to make us clean, beginning from the inside out!
One of the greatest burdens we as humans carry is guilt and shame. We have a hard time letting go of the things of the past and present that bring guilt, and this causes great shame. We claw and clamber in order to either try and cleanse ourselves by multiplying good deeds, or if we realize we can’t, we do whatever it takes to quiet the accusing thoughts and voices that bombard us day in and day out. If the voices and accusations are too loud, our need to quiet them can take on as great a persistence as the strength of the clamber, even to our own detriment, to silence them once and for all. Eventually, we realize that we have little control over our “demons” and either pretend they don’t exist by burying them deeply within, or by giving into them in despair. Jesus understood this unrelenting need to be clean, and his word gives voice to our cries well in Psalm 57:7-10:
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. 9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
With unrelenting love, we see the heart of God toward us as our hearts cry out to him, in Ezekiel 36:24-27:
For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. 25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.
We also discover that even as we have no power to cleanse or rid ourselves of the accusing voices of guilt and shame, Jesus does. He just waits patiently until we tire of our own puny attempts and cry out to him for his rescue and salvation!
“…he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
Jesus, the giver of good gifts has offered us the amazing gift of becoming clean! If we were to take the time to be truly honest with ourselves, isn’t much of the activity we fill our time with even this Christmas Season an attempt to quiet the voices within? Jesus has made a way. Will you quiet yourself long enough to consider his gift for yourself?
Lord, I can’t cleanse myself. I have tried over and over again. I have tried to silence the voices, and even now find that I keep myself busy so that I can possibly drown out the clamber, but am unable. Today, will you fill me with your Holy Spirit? Today will you make me clean? Thank you for hearing my cries. In Jesus’ name, amen.