Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Last week I after dinner I was taking care of cleaning some of the bigger pots that don't fit into our dishwasher. Who knew dinner for a family of five would require commercial-sized equipment! But when I went to grab the dish brush that we keep on the counter behind the sink, it wasn't there. I looked in all the usual places, but it was nowhere to be found.
I set that task aside for a moment to unload the clean dishes, and that's when I found it, along with the clean utensils..... inside our dishwasher. On purpose. Apparently my wife put it in the last load.
Stay with me here...
My first thought was, "That's ridiculous. The dish brush is constantly soapy. It never needs washing- it's the one doing the washing, and it gets cleaned as it goes!"
Bethany begs to differ, and actually finds my dish brush neglect appalling, suggesting that it needs to be washed regularly itself, even though it's often covered in soap. This conversation may be marriage in a nutshell.
And, like most of the last 19 years we've been together, I'm realizing she's probably right.
Beyond the kitchen details, I wonder if many of us disciples of Jesus fall prey to "dish brush spirituality." We are out there regularly trying to live out the love of Jesus in tangible ways toward the world. And in the midst of it, we kind of assume that we're constantly connected to it. Therefore, we are less intentional about making space to do nothing but receive the same sorts of things we are trying to express to the around us. It's difficult to receive something you've been taught to give out. Just think about the fact that the ones who love to bring meals to sick families are often the ones least likely to receive a meal offer to them! Similarly, sometimes the longer someone is around Christian faith, the less likely they are to actually encounter the beauty of the good news themselves. They are quick to share it (even with the right motives!), but often overlook how much God wants to speak it over and over to them.
It's an odd reality, but it's true. Even when hearts are in the right place, personal needs are often downplayed. We may deeply desire that everyone know how amazing God's grace is, yet in the very same thought we are feeling like we're not doing enough for God.
Additionally, when we already know something is true, we can breeze past it because of familiarity, without letting God speak it to us in a fresh way once again. As we prayed in one of our LifePath Vision Team meetings this week, one of our team members was stirred to share with us a basic word of encouragement from God: You are enough. I initially nodded in agreement, knowing that this is a great truth that I've spoken to others many times. And because I agreed with it so much, I almost missed letting God speak that good news to me in the moment. That's the temptation. If we know something is true, we often miss the chance for God to use it to transform us all over again.
I find it interesting that the scriptures regularly talk about "renewal" in both the Old and New Testament. God renews our strength, our hearts, and our minds. The very word denotes that something was new once, and it once again needs maintenance. Discipleship is an ongoing experience, not a one time decision. It's humbling to know that even as we tell people of the goodness of God's love and grace, we regularly need to stop and receive it once again. We need to be still to experience the deep love that cleanses and transforms us, even if we feel like it's a normal part of our lives and language.
Are there elements of God's good news that you really want others to experience, but that you yourself haven't rested in lately? Are you wanting to show grace to everyone, yet haven't let God's grace put your heart at rest? Are you wanting to make sure everyone feels loved, yet it's been a while since you truly let God's love wash over you until it fills you completely?
Even scrub brushes need washing. Today, take some time to personally listen for Jesus to speak the same love and grace to you that you know he speaks to everyone else.
Jesus, I want to be available during this moment right now for renewal. Help me receive your love and grace.