This past year has been about change in my life. And it was a clothes line that did it.
I mark the beginning of this metamorphosis at November 2011, when I took my first trip to the Dominican Republic to meet the "son" we have sponsored for seven years through Compassion International. For weeks before the trip, I obsessed in prayer and devotion about the change that needed to take place in my life. I had started to feel like Lazarus. Not the dead Lazurus, but the newly raised Lazarus. The stinky Lazarus, wound up in grave clothes, alive as he would ever be, but not as free as he would ever be.
14 years ago, Christ raised my Spirit to life in Him. He called me out of the grave and into a new resurrected life, and he has, slowly but surely, been peeling off the layers of sin that keep me from true freedom and pure service. Every now and then, I look down and realize how smelly and wound up in this world I really am. One day, as it says in I Corinthians 15, this mortality will put on immortality...I will shed this cacoon of ineffectiveness and stand clean, new, and completely free in front of my heavenly Father. Until that day comes, I've got some unwinding to do...and the first bandage to go this year was the one from my eyes, mercifully allowing me to see my own bound condition and the condition of the desperately needy around the world.
After spending five days last November in a country where those who have food, clean water, shelter, and clothes for the day are content, I returned home and was slapped in the face by my own excess. At the first Compassion Center that I visited, I was taken to the home of a young mother named Gwendolyn. Her 15 x 15 home was immaculate, a protest against the squalor of the surrounding community. The wardrobe of her four-member family, minus what they were wearing, hung on a single clothes line, and yet she was proud to share with us God's blessing and provision, always wearing a sweet, shy smile. That day, my mind leaped to the thousands of clothing items possessed by my family, to the home that sat cluttered. I brushed the event under my heart's rug, unable to process it at the time with all of the other emotions related to what I was seeing and feeling. When I came home, God kept calling sweet Gwendolyn to my mind. Her face haunted me. She, in her simple satisfaction, revealed to me my sin, and each day I was home, the weight of it all became heavier and heavier on my soul. While her simple home was a reflection of a humble heart before God, my home was the reflection of a proud heart, a heart that had ceased to see a need for God. I had been an absolute fool, spending my entire adult life accumulating worthless junk--the kind of treasure that moth and rust corrupts and thieves break through and steal. Where was my treasure in heaven? The only things that last for eternity are people, and I had wasted a lot of time investing in riches instead of relationships. It was painful to realize that I had been living the terrible lie that riches satisfy. I repented in tears, sitting (appropriately) in a mountain of laundry in my daughters' room, confronted at last by my shameful excess, my mind's eye forever stamped with the picture of a clothes line a thousand miles away. God had opened my eyes to see how I had mummified myself in worldly things, bound from serving Him by debt and lust for treasures that don't last.
This past year has been about ripping off bandages. Painful, yes...but also incredibly liberating...and satisfying to the soul. I feel so hardened sometimes that it is good to know that even I can be changed...my Lord sanctifies me, setting me more and more free from my sinful nature to serve Him.
This year, I'm inviting you to join me on a journey of un-binding. Starting September 1, I am going to get rid of something I own that I don't need (probably never needed) and give it to someone who does. I'm pretty sure that this process will be painful at times, revealing and shameful. You will probably witness some tantrums. In the end, I hope to see that I have spent a year constructing relationships and permitting God to tear down the stronghold of worldly wants with His truth.
I hear the Savior calling me to more freedom...the drop your nets, stand up and walk, go and sin no more, come forth from the grave kind of freedom...and my soul longs for it. I'm ready to shed. Do you want to join me?