Thursday, July 3, 2014

When our hearts are dirty

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.Psalm 51:7
My dogs are dirty. They spend almost all day running, wrestling, chasing squirrels and napping under the vines in the backyard.  

At the end of the day, they stand outside the door, eagerly waiting for my husband to let them in. It’s as if they dream of this moment all day long. 

Letting them back in the house is a process, and a daily routine. 

I usually watch my husband clean them up in the mud room before they are allowed to come in the house. It appears that he enjoys the process as much as they do! He smiles as Sandy and Sophie walk in circles with uncontrollable waging tails offering unstoppable wet kisses to him and each other. Lovingly, he attends to them. With a damp towel he cleans the dirt from their paws and bellies, and wipes away the dust from their faces. 

The routine usually ends with a kiss on their noses and a pat on their heads. “Good girls!” he repeats, with a smile still on his face.

The ‘girls’ come in to the kitchen where there is a bowl of food—and later a treat—waiting for them.  It’s always this way, and they know it! They know that their master will always receive them with love, and will care for them regardless of how dirty they get from being outside.

One day as I was watching this interaction between my husband and the dogs, and I thought I probably should share the cleaning routine with him, but “they are too dirty, I don’t really want to touch them like that!” I thought. 

Almost instantly a still-small-voice in me said, “Have I not cared for you and cleansed you repeatedly in the same way regardless of how ‘dirty’ you got?”  My heart sank as I remembered how many times I've failed and grieved my heavenly Father.  

In a way, I can see how my behavior at times resembles that of my puppies when they go out, play and get dirty: 

I wander out into the world, flirt with sin, get ‘dirty’ and find myself far from Him, tired, and in desperate need of His rescue. I return to my Father, broken at His feet believing that He will see my heart, and I will receive His mercy and grace.

In my brokenness, when I am tempted to think I am “too dirty” for my Father to want to make me clean again, I remember and repeat the desperate prayer of King David in Psalm 51:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. […]My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
Psalm 51:1-3; 17

It is there in my brokenness, I have repeatedly found His loving arms offering rest, restoration and nourishment for my soul.

You see, our heavenly Father will never turn away a sincere broken heart that seeks Him, no matter how ‘dirty’ it may be. He is always faithful to come to our rescue when we return to Him. He receives us with excitement, cleans us from all unrighteousness, and sets a place for us to be nourished, restored, and made new. The best part is, that when He forgives, He forgets!  (Isaiah 43:25) 

Because of His love and mercy we are free from the shame of our mistakes, and we can always begin again.  

Unfortunately, in this life, in this world, we will get ‘dirty’, just like my puppies get when they wander out into the wilderness of our backyard! Our sins are many, they are daily, but the good news is that His love, mercy and grace are much greater than our sins, and He is ready to clean up our messy hearts, when we are ready to return to Him. 

Christ died to do away with the burden, shame, guilt and condemnation that sin brings to our life. We can rest in the promise that when we find ourselves broken and ashamed, covered in the muck of our sins with a true heart of repentance, He will be there waiting to clean us up.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Our dogs are dirty, they enjoy getting dirty and they are not ashamed! As for me, I want to keep my heart as clean as possible for my Father, because I love Him and hate grieving His heart. I am comforted to know that in spite of my failures, His love will never leave me, and His arms are open wide. 

For now, I guess I can learn to enjoy cleaning the dogs once in a while!

Sandy and Sophie

To consider...

Have you ever felt your heart is too ‘dirty’, or that your mistakes are too great to approach God and ask for His forgiveness?
Remember King David. He failed many times, and God esteemed Him as a man after His heart. 

Read Psalm 51 and let its words sink in. Meditate on King David’s life, and then ask yourself if your sins are too great for God to forgive.

Also, meditate on the Scriptures below. Let your heart be renewed.

Meditate on these...

But God had so much loving-kindness. He loved us with such a great love. Even when we were dead because of our sins, He made us alive by what Christ did for us. You have been saved from the punishment of sin by His loving-favor. Ephesians 2:4-5

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

My prayer for us…

Lord Jesus, your love, kindness, and mercy are so great that sometimes it is hard for us to understand it. Thank you for loving us the way you do, and for giving your life so that we may find freedom from the shame, guilt and condemnation of our sins. Lord forgive us for when we hurt your heart, and thank you that we can turn to you when our hearts are dirty, that you see our pain and offer to clean our mess and restore us to new life. We want to honor you and love you with the way we live our lives, but we are weak without you. Help us overcome sin, and help us find our way back to you with a true heart of repentance when we have wandered away.
Thank you for your love. In Jesus name. Amen.

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