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So Messed Up

“What is the most broken and messed up thing in the world?” This conversation-starter was posted on Facebook today, and the answers have kept me interested all afternoon. Poverty, sexual abuse against women and children, the inaccessibility of plentiful resources like food and clean water, greed for power and money, the value of money outweighing the value of human life, the pandemic of broken families, terrorism.

I can’t argue against any of those. Nor can I argue that one is more messed up than the rest.

The answer I would contribute is that the sacredness of sexual purity is broken. That’s almost the same answer as sexual abuse, but it’s broader than that. Abuse happens because individuals lose (or never had) a sense of the sacredness of sexuality, and their selfishness drives them to inflict their perversion on other people. That trajectory is manifested in so many ways: pornography and child pornography, prostitution and sex slavery, adultery, rape and other forms of assault… The list goes on and on, and I believe it all stems from purity not being cherished and protected.

So much brokenness. It is so heavy. And it is so close. There’s no point in deluding ourselves into thinking the mess doesn’t touch our own yard. It’s here. It’s everywhere. And it sucks.

My heart is often heavy in prayer for broken loved ones. Abusive relationships, devastating illnesses, financial blows that keep on coming. I pray for them and I pray with them. And then, so often it feels like the next wave of trauma just sweeps right over us all. And sometimes bitterness creeps into my prayers. “Really, God? This is what You thought was a good answer? Because this is kind of the exact opposite of what we were praying for.” Sometimes I’m tempted to decline praying for someone lest they be sucked into the vortex of my run of bad “luck”.

The last couple of weeks have been especially overwhelming, with waves coming from every direction. Talking about brokenness on Facebook is too heavy, too close.

But it is timely.

As Easter approaches, I think it is worthwhile to consider the brokenness. The loss. The seemingly unmet expectations of our prayers and hopes. I’m sure that’s how Christ’s followers felt 2000 years ago as they watched Jesus being arrested, tossed back and forth between governing bodies in a sham of a trial, beaten and then condemned. Hour by hour, they must have felt like “This is as bad as it can get. He’s going to show Himself strong any moment now. He’s about to do the big miracle that we’ve been waiting for.” And then, no. Crucified.

The brokenness and the desperation of such loss – it’s unbearable. Where is the hope when it feels like God is playing a sick joke? How can we continue to cry out to Him for help when we can see how He’s answered all our prayers leading up to this point? How do we trust Him when it looks like He failed?

The answer lies in Sunday morning.  We find our hope in the resurrection, the triumph over death. We cling to that reality from centuries past, but it is also a picture of a coming final victory. The mess will be eradicated, the brokenness will be fully healed.

Today, we wait in the pause of Saturday, wallowing in brokenness and pain. We may question the purpose of the pause: why is He waiting? But let us not give up entirely. He is big enough to handle our doubts and bitterness and even accusations. He is patient enough to wait out our tears. He is purposeful enough to make use of the pause. And He is already victorious in the coming dawn.

Sunday is almost here.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2016 in God, Personal Growth

 

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Unfathomable Filth

I have just had one of the most revolting experiences of my life.

My son attends a private school, which means we are obligated to be part of a fundraising committee. Someone contacted the committee asking if he could get a few volunteers to do some work and he would make a donation to the school. I jumped on that opportunity, hoping to get my required hours out of the way for this year. It sounded like he needed help moving. His request was for 3 or 4 men, but I was the only person who responded. (I guess he should’ve said 3 or 4 men or 1 woman!) The committee contact person told me to bring work gloves, but neglected to pass on the tiny little detail about also needing a very strong stomach. Lucky for me, I’ve already got that.

It was not so much a “move” as it was an “empty everything out”. The guy is the owner of a duplex and one of the apartments was recently vacated. He needed to clean it out and fix it up before he could look for new tenants.

ImageI got one picture before my phone battery died. This was one of four bedrooms. See those coffee cups on the table? Moldy. See that pizza box under the table? Still had pizza in it. See the thousands of cigarette butts? No, you’d have to start picking up filthy clothes to see those. Same with the empty pill bottles, potato chip bags, pop cans, broken glass, condom wrappers, dirty dishes, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

The large laundry/storage room (easily 10×15’) was literally knee-deep in dirty clothes covering the whole floor. The litter boxes were underneath that. Which means, yes, the cats (I don’t want to know how many) went elsewhere. There were piles and piles and piles of poo in the kids’ rooms. And by the smell, it was clear that the pee was soaked adequately into the unbelievable amount of clothes and toys and garbage that completely covered the carpets in those rooms.

I cut my hand on broken glass in the toddler’s room. A toddler’s bedroom! I cried all the way home.

I think this is the dirtiest I have ever felt in my life. And let me qualify that statement with a couple of other examples. I used to work in a group home for mentally challenged adults (one of whom was a smearer), and I scrubbed poo off every imaginable surface.  I have also visited slums and destitute orphanages in various African cities where I sat in filth and cuddled pee-soaked children. I have held hands that hadn’t seen a bar of soap in years – and then those hands stroked my face and hair.

Today was worse.

When I got home, I came in the back door, leaving my shoes on the porch. I literally dumped my purse out on the floor so I could take the purse down to the laundry room. I went straight to the basement where I stripped right down to my nobody-else’s-business. On my way to the upstairs shower, I stopped at the kitchen sink so I could scrub my hands and nails with a brush and lots and lots of soap, praying continually that today of all days wouldn’t be the day that I have to encounter an intruder in my home. I had a hot, hot shower with lots more soap and lots of harsh scrubbing. Then I disinfected everything I had touched since I’d been at that apartment: my phone, my keys, the steering wheel in my van, and certainly my shoes!

I do have a point in telling you this, my friends. This unfathomable filth is what sin has done to our world. This is what sin has done to us. This is what sin has done to me. My garbage may look different from yours, but it is all garbage. It is unholy and we cannot bring it into the presence of the perfect and pure God.

And yet, God loved us so much, even with all that filth, that He sent His Son to clean it up. While we were yet sinners, while we were yet completely obscured by the stench, the obscenity, the wretchedness of our sin, He died for us. He took all of that onto and into Himself so that we could be free from it.

We can’t clean ourselves up. There are no garbage bags, dumpsters, bleach or disinfectant that would ever be enough to make us presentable to the Holy God. We can’t do it ourselves. Jesus is the only way.

Faithful readers, you already know I love Jesus. I’m usually a little more subtle about pointing you in His direction, but I just can’t today. My sin is too much for me to fathom, and I am overwhelmed by the sacrifice that He made to take it away. I want to celebrate being made clean and whole and pure.

Thank you, Jesus!

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in God, Heaven

 

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