“Coming Clean” by Michelle Jones

Are you one of those people who gives your teeth an extra good brush and floss when you have to see the dentist?  Do you wash the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, or tidy up before the housekeeper arrives?  How about shampoo your hair prior to a salon visit?

I don’t like using labels like “compulsive,”  “neurotic,” or “three sandwiches short of a picnic.”  Partly because I think labels alienate people, but mostly because I prefer my given name or an approved nickname.

Yes, I do all of these things.  One of them might, by itself, seem a bit quirky.  Two might deem an individual eccentric or maybe a little peculiar.  Once counting begins to feel like compiling though (and don’t get me started on my whole laundry obsession!), I think we’ve moved on from quirks and peculiarities to symptoms of deeper things.

It didn’t take much prayer to diagnosis my issue.  God was obviously interested in making a point.  Underlying each of my foibles—and possibly yours—is the basic belief that people never get things as clean as you want them unless you give them a little help, a head start, if you will, to raise them to your standard.  I see it as a favor really, though I must confess that I also mentally take some of the credit for great outcomes.

This may not seem like such a big deal when we’re talking about teeth or dishes, but we are a different story.  Redeeming an unclean soul is a much bigger job.  It’s a God-sized job, and we can’t contribute in any way.  On our best day, our standard is no standard at all compared to His.  His standard is PERFECTION.

On Easter—Resurrection Sunday—we celebrate and acknowledge our zero involvement in our salvation.  Jesus died to do for us what we could not do for ourselves, not help us with something we’re merely struggling to do better.  God sacrificed His Son to do more than just clean up our behavior.  He is “making us clean,” something we have no power or desire to be on our own.

There is a line in the movie “The Philadelphia Story” where Katherine Hepburn says to Cary Grant, “Oh Dexter!  I’m such an unholy mess of a girl!”  That’s my anthem more often than I’d like to admit.

I wish I did things well and right even most of the time, but I don’t.  I’m terrible with my money.  I am overweight.  Right now, my apartment is a mess.  My relationship with my mom could be better, and with my two older brothers.  Envy, dishonesty, hopelessness, depravity, meanness, and cowardice all live in me, waiting for permission to speak.

I am an unholy mess, but Jesus died—and beat death by rising again—for this unholy mess.  By His Spirit, I am becoming new day by day.  If I have any grace to replace my taste for vengeance, it is because He gave it to me.  If there’s any correction in me, it sprang from His wisdom.

We have no gifts to offer the world except that He empowers us with them.  We have no purpose that was not born in His imagination.  There is no forgiveness for an offense that wasn’t driven through the spikes that nailed Him to that cross.

Without Him, we are nothing and we can do nothing, least of all become clean.  And if we can say anything at all to God, or can hear anything from Him, it is because Jesus made a way for it.

Like David, I wonder sometimes, “What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps. 8: 4)

I try not to spend too much time there.  It’s too easy to wallow in my own unworthiness and forget what I’m worth to God.  I am priceless to Him, and He proved that when He bought me with all that He had.  If I’m never good enough for someone else—if I am never pretty enough or smart enough or nice enough to meet another person’s standard—I have proof that I am worth a King’s ransom!

You got a bad deal, Lord.  That’s what I used to think.  Paying so much to get so little didn’t make sense to me for a very long time.  But Love, I have learned, is about giving, not getting the best deal.  To pay everything for nothing is PERFECT LOVE.

To take an unholy mess of a girl, and give her the power to become Your beloved daughter… That’s just GLORIOUS.

(Wow.  I thought I was obsessive about my laundry!)


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