Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Grace on a Thursday: For when I wear dirty clothes

I think the grossest I've ever allowed my physical body to get was when I went on a mission trip to Mexico. We went for one week to build homes. We slept in tents on hard packed dirt. We brushed our teeth with a dixie cup of bottled water and spit on the ground. Everywhere was dirt. I worked primarily on the roof of the house we were building, hammering tacks into black tar paper and baking in the sun. Just once, we had an opportunity to go to a public bathroom area for a shower. I opted not to go because why not just go all the way with the grossness? (I was a lot younger, and am not sure I'd make that same choice today).

By the end of the week, my duffel bag was filled with dirty, sweaty, disgusting clothes. My shoes were filthy. My hair - well I don't even know, because it spent all of it's time pulled back and under a bandanna. When we arrived home, it was the best feeling on earth to shower and finally put on clean clothes.

In church, we've been studying Colossians chapter 3. It's well known for containing verses on how to live a godly life. About eight verses in, the author, the apostle Paul tells us that as believers, we should "put to death" in us the things of this world including sexual sin, greed, anger, bad language, lying, and the like because they are part of our old natures, our fleshly habits and desires. He ends the list by saying, "And do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge..."

Before I trusted Jesus with my life, my whole wardrobe was like that suitcase, full of filthy clothes I was putting on. Envy. Control. Anger. Selfishness. But when I turned to Him, I took off the old clothes, and he gave me clean ones. Not because I deserved it, but because of grace.

Because of grace, the clean clothes were free. They were garments of contentment, peace, self-control, love and the list goes on. The absolutely crazy part of this tale is that sometimes, I open up that old suitcase. I pull out those filthy rags and try them on. It's disgusting, really. Who would do such a thing in the physical world?? But in the spiritual realm, I sometimes do the opposite of what Colossians 3 says. I take off my new self, and I put on the old. I abide in my flesh instead of in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And it is not pretty. Those old clothes are so unbecoming to a follower of the Lord of heaven.

But grace always always always takes my hand and leads me back to the new, clean clothes available to me. Jesus whispers, "Take that off. It's not you anymore. It is ruining your loveliness. Here, take these. These are clean. White as snow. You are radiant whenever you put them on! These are so you. The real you, exactly who I made you to be."

Oh Lord, help me to choose wisely what I put on today.

{hey, read Colossians 3 today, if you can. it's good.}



  1. i need this reminder every day - to ask the Lord to help me choose wisely what to put on. and to just be more intentionally aware of it. thanks leslie, you rock. i imagine this will become a routine of mine. : )

  2. I love this reminder, it's so easy to put on the wrong clothes without even realizing it! It reminds of the verse that says it is fitting for the upright to praise him. (Psalm 33) It's like a well fit garment, tailored just for me when I praise him-it suits me and fits me much better than all of the other yucky stuff that I so easily put on from time to time. I need to pay more attention to clothing my spiritual body than I do my physical one!

  3. this is SO well put.
    beautiful thoughts for the day.
    i mean, EVERY dsy.

  4. I like this analogy. I never realized you went to Mexico, I hear stories of your trip to Russia, which I would like to hear more of, I'll drop that in the submission request box!

    This must be the reason why Mormon's wear WHITE for their undergarments and Temple Clothes. They must take that passage literally.

  5. I love Colossians 3 and I love the way you explained it!! I also did a missions trip to Mexico, but I took the one shower... couldn't stand not to! It was there at the showers that I professed my love for my later-to-be husband to a friend of mine (even though we weren't supposed to be forming relationships). We're on year 22 together, so I guess when you fall in love in the dirt in Mexico with only 1 shower in a week, serving a little village, it's the real thing! :)