At last! The sun is shining and I do not have to wear my coat just to walk outside. We are coming off of a rather frigid, snowy last few weeks here in northern Arkansas. And let me tell you, this parent is ready for spring!
I was really thriving today in the sun and warmth, until I sat down in a particular chair in our living room, which just happened to be the same seat a good friend of mine was sitting in just an hour earlier as we talked about the many adventures of raising children.
I noticed something. I just happened to look down at our footrest and saw a sight that made me want to crawl under the couch. Small crumbs. Cat hair. Dirt. All over our footrest. Yep. Not what I want to admit. Did my friend see all of that when he was here??? Oh my.
Then I thought for a second and realized that the reason I didn’t notice the dirty footrest earlier was because I was seated in a different place in the living room away from the sunlight that now exposed more than half of the living room.
Suddenly, a saying came to mind that I have heard many times: the closer you get to the light, the more the dirt shows. How true! How embarrassingly true, especially when you’ve had company over. This is not just true for sunlight shining on footrests in the living room, but it also applies to our spiritual journey with Christ.
My favorite verse in the Bible is Romans 8:1. It says, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Simply put, God is not in heaven waiting anxiously to unroll a long list of your failures and smite you over the head with it the minute you get to heaven. He is FOR you.
On the other hand, part of growing spiritually (growing closer to God) includes the gradual revealing of junk in our lives (habits, selfishness, impurities) that need to be dealt with. God’s light doing it’s thing.
God has welcomed you into His kingdom as you are, and the blood of His Son has covered you. His continual plan, however, is to not let you remain as you are. His desire is to transform you into the likeness of His Son Jesus, and this is not always a pleasant experience.
Here are a few of the tools God uses to shine His light and uncover the undesirable junk and funk in our lives that can keep us from growing closer to Him and stronger in our faith.
The written word of God. For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. (Hebrews 4:12 NLT).
The preaching and teaching of the word of God. Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2 NLT)
The godly example of others. Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. (Philippians 3:17 NLT).
Divine discipline. For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. (Hebrews 12:10-11 NLT)
Hardship and suffering. Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. (James 1:2-3 NLT)
The person and work of the Holy Spirit. Undoubtedly, the Holy Spirit is at work in all of the above “tools” God uses to clean our hearts. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. (John 16:8 NLT).
We may think we are regressing spiritually when we become more and more aware of our shortcomings and flaws. But from these scriptures, we can walk confidently knowing that God isn’t finished with us, and He loves us so much that He is working diligently to refine us into His image. He is simply shining His light on places within or heart that need His redemptive cleaning!
As we cooperate with his work in our lives, it will honor God and eventually produce great fruit that will last.