…put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holinessEphesians 4:24
I am blessed to live in a beautiful place. Many sojourn here for incredible athletic experiences–100-mile running races (Western States), 100-mile equestrian endurance races (Tevis Cup), mountain biking, fishing, white-water rafting.
We share our little piece of paradise on the side of a hill with two dogs, a chinchilla and four horses.
Since I am the primary animal lover in our family, the responsibility for the horses falls primarily to me–and rightly so. This time of year, the mystique, intrigue, and “romance” of having horses is eroded by buckets of rain that fall, causing mud and manure (or, most likely, a combination of both) to be everywhere. Should the ponies go frolicking around, kicking up their heels at a time like this, everything else flies around too. (To the right is my pony, Breezy, in his rain sheet, standing in the muck.)
No matter what the weather, three times each day I head out there to do my chores, which include mucking the little arena the horses have access to (adjoining a big hillside forest turnout) and feeding them…these are messy, muddy, poopy jobs! All for the love of the equine! LOL! I slog through the gunk to get to their feeders. In the summer, I can spread hay all over the forest, but this time of year, the ponies have to be fed in their feeders most of the time.
Upon completing my chores, I have been known to re-enter the house with “mud” (or something more sinister disguised as mud, with a much more “pungent” aroma) on my sweatshirt hood or my back. This is in addition to the mud caking all the normal places such as pant ankles, legs (and, occasionally, my rear and arm should I slip and land on my backside).
Often, the rest of my daily routine adjusts to the timing of my “horse chores.” For instance, my daily shower may be put off until I find myself longing for “clean” mid-day. It is rather odd, though. In spite of emerging from the shower victorious over my arch-nemesis, unless I have a place I have to be or plan to host visitors, I typically figure “Why bother changing into clean clothes? They would just get dirty, too.” Granted, if the mud on my clothes is still wet, I am less likely to do this. 😉 Nevertheless, since I plan on just going out and getting dirty again, putting on freshly washed clothes to match my freshly washed body, seems pretty pointless! After all, why bother changing into clean clothes since I am just going back outside again and I am sure to get nuzzled with snot-nose horsey faces or rubbed on by a dusty head or step ceremoniously into a fresh pile of…well, you get the idea.
Often, I toss my favorite jeans and sweat shirt into a pile on the floor (complete with mud smudges) and head into the shower. I then step out of my hot-water reverie, having been transformed, shrug my freshly dried shoulders, slide back into mud-smudged jeans and hoodie, aware that I will be feeding ponies dinner in just a couple of hours. With all the rain dumping from the sky outside these days, I know that I will definitely be slogging my way through my evening horse chores again.
I would love to change into nicer or, at least, cleaner clothes. In fact, my husband bought me a wonderful soft sweater jacket for Christmas. It is beautiful and, did I say…soft? But it is white! I wonder how life would be if I were to shower and then put on a clean pair of pants, socks, and this white sweater? (In fact, I wonder if I will ever wear this sweater! I LOVE it, but it is white!)
Here is the thing and the point of this lengthy post…I get in the shower and get out, enjoying being clean, but I don’t plan to change my behavior so it doesn’t really last long. In fact, I basically “make provision” for heading back out into the mud. I don’t plan to change. Wearing something clean, let alone white and new runs totally contrary to what I accept as my reality. My reality is that I am going to behave in such a way as to be mucky and gunky anyhow, so I expect it and, even, plan for it.
If I were to put on the sweater my husband bought me, I bet I wouldn’t live quite the same way. In fact, assuming I went out at all, I bet I would stay on this side of the fence and throw the hay over! If not that, then I would likely ask someone else to do my horse chores and I would stay clear of the muck all together! I would live verrry differently if I wore that nice white sweater hubby gave me!
I heard the voice of the Spirit of God impress on my heart…
“Child, you do this with me as well.”
Yes…each morning I start the day spending time focusing on Him, confessing, committing, genuinely offering myself to Him. I get “cleaned up” so to speak. It is like my shower…I am cleansed, forgiven, his grace abounds…but then, I get up and leave that precious time with my Savior and Lord and proceed to live as if I assume that I won’t change. I “make provision” for the same old same old…the same old rut, the same old muck and same old behavior that keeps me coming back asking Him to forgive me again and again. I do this instead of “changing my clothes” in anticipation of choosing to change.
What if I were to put on a new soft white sweater, spiritually speaking? Or, better, like Isaiah 61:10 says, what about the robe of righteousness? Is there some way that if I were to “put on” clean clothing, I might live accordingly? I might stay “on this side of the fence” instead of heading back into the muck of behavior that dishonors God?
Wow. Maybe I will choose to wear that white sweater for the rest of the day…to remind me physically of the fact that God HAS made me clean…now I am to LIVE IT OUT! To remind myself to choose differently when I am tempted by sin.