so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains … I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.’
There’s a huge cellar at Ellel Grange where all sorts of things have been stored for many years and it was time for a massive clear out! It fell to two of us who are involved in the creativity courses here, to sort out the place where all the craft materials are kept.
We set to, opening the doors of large cupboards to find cardboard boxes, ice cream containers, biscuit tins, bags and baskets, brimming over with all kinds of things that will be very useful for future creativity events: a train set, pretty beads and seashells, ribbons, paints, pens and pencils, stencils and coloured papers, textured card and envelopes. There were surprise finds - precious things that we had forgotten were even there. But in amongst all the treasure was a lot of junk as well! Broken flower pots, dried up pots of glue, paintbrushes with hardly any bristles left, screwed up bits of paper, pens that didn’t work anymore … half a worn out rubber tyre! … and dust … lots of dirty dust!
In order to separate the ‘treasure’ from the rubbish, and bring order out of chaos, we had to pull everything out. It wasn’t a quick job and, eventually, there were many piles of varying sizes all over the floor with hardly a place to put our feet. Getting tired, covered in dust and surrounded by such a mess, we began to think it would have been better not to have started this job and to have left everything squashed in as it was behind the cupboard doors! After all, we had managed for quite a few years, to pull some useful bits and pieces out from all the chaos whenever we needed them!
But as we pressed on, disentangling ribbons from bent up pieces of wire, and separating pretty shells from dirty old stones, throwing out rubbish, dusting out the cupboards and putting the materials back in good order, we got past that point of saying to one another, “Is this really worth it?” to recognising that this had indeed been a very worthwhile exercise. It will no longer be a huge effort to get to what we need and those treasures that had been buried are now clean and readily available to bless the guests on future creativity courses.
I began to see how like our personal walks with the Lord this was. We can choose to keep the doors to the basements of our lives closed to the Lord, and live a superficial Christian life “because”, we reason, “hidden down there are painful wounds … covered in the unpleasant ‘dust’ of unforgiveness, mistrust, bitterness, resentment, jealousy and anger. It’s potentially all too messy – maybe even explosive - better not to go there!” Of course, that’s the lie Satan, the adversary of God’s people, wants us to believe.
The truth is that opening up the deeper areas of our lives to the Lord Jesus, allowing Him to shine the light of His truth in, often does result in things looking worse before they begin to get better. We see things in ourselves that we don’t like or want, painful things, things that perhaps we’re embarrassed and ashamed of; and bringing it all out into the light isn’t easy. But even though we might be afraid of the mess, Jesus isn’t. He sees it anyway! And even if we don’t let Him in, although He is grieved, He doesn’t stop loving us. But when we humbly open the doors to these painful, perhaps even shameful areas to Him, ‘He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9) and to heal us on the inside.
Allowing the mess to come out and giving it to Jesus is the very best thing we can do. So often, underneath the mess is the hidden treasure Jesus longs to restore to us. Those areas that we have perhaps called ‘bad’ might have been covered in bad attitudes, but so often they are wounds (perhaps rejection or abandonment issues), and as we allow Jesus to pour His love and acceptance in, and receive His healing, these very areas turn out to be the treasure in us – the areas where we really know God’s grace and mercy, His love and forgiveness, and from which His love and the hope we have in Him can shine out to others.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for Your great love for me. Please help me to trust You with the hidden areas of my life, to bring them to You, to receive Your love and forgiveness, so that You can do Your work of redemption in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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