I live in a 63 year old house. It has tons of charm and character--and an ongoing need for maintenance. My favorite spot to sit is in the corner of our sun porch on my comfortable recovered rocker/glider from the triplets' baby nursery. With a cup of coffee, a book and a view--it is truly my cozy, happy place.
Recently, we noticed that while my porch felt cozy and happy on the inside, there was some exterior water damage to the trim around one of the windows. I asked our builder friend to take a look at repairing it. No big deal. When I returned home after his visit my heart sank. Below each of the six picture windows he had peeled back boards to reveal a widespread problem--rot and decay. Big deal.
And it reminds me a lot of my heart and my sin.
I can check most of the boxes that make me a "good girl" by the world's standards. My sins are 'respectable' and often excusable under the guise of 'nobody's perfect' and 'don't be so hard on yourself.' But there are places in my heart that are just gross.
Lately, circumstances have revealed some yucky heart issues that disgust and disappoint me. I have found myself going to great lengths to avoid the situations that seem to lead me to sin. My heart that longs to BE good cries, "It's not really me, it's them/that causing me to act this way..."
I have been convicted by a beloved analogy from C.S. Lewis about rats in the cellar.
"...surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is. Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth. If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light. " ~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (1952)
I get it. When I am exposed to the part of me that still needs a lot less of me and a whole lot more of the Lord, I cringe--then I impulsively want to flip the revealing light switch back off and quickly move along.
This morning I was leveled in church while hearing/reading Truth that exposed my need for the Lord. As we read the confession I felt it. This 'good girl' is desperately in need of grace and the forgiveness of sins. I wanted to run away for a little while. Not thinking about Truth would be a lot more comfortable than dealing with the messiness of it all. And the image that came to mind was of my sun porch.
We could have just put those boards back, slapped on a fresh coat of paint and pretended everything was fine...but that would not actually make it fine.
An easier, appearance-based solution could have worked for a short time...but eventually the rot and decay would catch up. And so it is with our hearts. The process can be messy and inconvenient. We may have to give up some of our 'cozy.' But there is a point to it all.
As I was feeling overwhelmed by these thoughts this morning we sang Gungor's song, Beautiful Things and it was a poignant reminder. Indeed, Lord,
"You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of us."