I Am Clean

Anybody else ever feel like you’ve been trudging through knee-high muck and sludge and despaired of ever finding your way out? This is how I have been feeling for the last few months and I’ll share why.

In the last year, our family has experienced a lot of transition and changes, some really wonderful ones and some really difficult ones. Almost a year ago, we received an unexpected phone call that would dramatically alter our lives for the better as we were asked if we would be willing to take in a newborn baby into our home. If you’ve been following our story, we had been planning and working towards adopting and had just finished our home study a few months prior, but this was a little different than our original plan, as this baby girl was in need of a foster home. The decision was a scary one that would involve a lot more risk and faith and trust than we were probably comfortable with, but we knew that God was asking us to say, “Yes”.

Since then we have absolutely all fallen in love. This little girl has won our hearts and even though the future is still uncertain, as far as we are concerned, she is our daughter and sister and she brings so much joy to our family! But even the most wonderful changes stretch us and challenge us. With every new baby comes lack of sleep (even though she’s been our best sleeper yet), schedule adjustments, time demands, and basically all of your selfishness being exposed yet again as this little one demands much of your energy and attention.

A few months after she came into our home, my husband Joe felt that the Lord was asking him to let go of his dream and quit his job as a full-time missionary at our local house of prayer where he had been working and ministering for approximately 4 years. While I was in complete agreement with Joe in this decision, it was still a huge shock for me. In my mind, I think I believed he would be on staff there for decades, if not the rest of our lives, and that this was God’s plan for our family. To have this abrupt change in direction was difficult to process, to say the least. For both Joe and myself, we had to grieve our individual dreams of how we imagined our future would be and let them go.

During this time of grieving, the Lord began to expose several things in my heart that I sort of knew were there, but had been ignoring and had probably hoped would somehow just go away on their own. But He wasn’t letting me ignore them any longer and I was having to face the sin that was there, head on. He was searching my heart and I was discovering some pretty offensive things there.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

At the same time, our plans for me to work full-time and for Joe to be the full-time dad for a while didn’t pan out as expected and we found ourselves at a loss for what to do next. Why had God allowed this to happen? What were we supposed to do? We felt not to just jump into fix-it mode and try to solve it ourselves, but waiting on God and being in a season of limbo was very contrary to our natural instincts. God has supernaturally provided for our every financial need in the last 6 months of Joe’s unemployment and He continually proves Himself faithful to take care of us, but our faith has been tested in ways that have been even more than when Joe was in ministry and we relied on the generosity of partners to support him in his work.

Additionally, new dreams and desires were being awakened in my heart and I was being drawn to pursue a new ministry opportunity, but the doors were being shut in my face and I was being confronted with whether I would trust His heart and His perfect timing for these desires when I really wanted it NOW!

While I didn’t like what He was showing me as He exposed impure motives and desires and the ways I was trying to control my life and get what I wanted apart from Him, I knew that it was all for my good and even in the midst of the pain, I was thankful that He was working on my heart.

However, as time went on, it seemed that the list of issues in my heart continued to grow. I began to become disheartened and discouraged, feeling the weight of condemnation and shame over all that I was finding. I was also being reminded of areas where I had been wounded in the past and God was showing me how He wanted to bring healing to those memories so that they could no longer hinder me or come between me and Him. But this was where the enemy saw an opportunity to come in with his lies.

“You’ll never be clean.
You’ll never be fixed.
You’re too messed up.
You’re never going to heal it all, so you’ll never be of much use to Him.”

I became overwhelmed with the seemingly insurmountable mound of muck and felt as though I was stuck in that pit of miry clay, but without seeing the hope of being lifted out of it.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:2)

Then, one night I was participating in a conference call with some other women and we were discussing hope and the things that hinder us from walking in God’s blessing. The leader of the group then had us close our eyes and imagine Jesus walking into the room. As we looked at His face, what did we see? What expression did we find there? Now look at His hands…what is He holding? What does He have that He wants to give to you?

As I did this, I pictured Jesus in my mind and the look on His face was one of kindness and tenderness. He was kneeling before me and in His hands was a towel.

Immediately I thought of how Jesus had washed the disciples feet and I went to read the account in John 13. As I read about Peter’s response to Jesus’ act of service, I was deeply impacted and struck my Jesus’ words…

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus answered, Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean…” (John 13:6-10)

In an instant, I felt His words wash over my heart and cleanse me from the filth of the enemy’s lies that I had been believing. I realized that they were not true and that Jesus had already washed me and given me a nice big bath to make my heart clean and that all I needed was to let Him wash my feet and remove the daily grime of walking through this broken and sin-tainted world. No matter what the enemy said, I could stand on the truth that Jesus declared me clean. As my Lord and Bridegroom, He lovingly kneels to serve me and speak His words of truth and life over me to wash my heart.

…just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit… (Titus 3:4-5)

Now, this was enough in and of itself. These truths were freeing me from the weight of the condemnation and hopelessness and discouragement and I could feel Him lifting me out of that pit of miry clay. But He had even more for me. As I was looking at all these scriptures about how He makes us clean, I stumbled upon a story in Acts 10 about Peter receiving a vision from God. In this vision he saw animals that were considered unclean for Jews to eat and a voice told him to kill and eat them.  “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.

This pierced me and cut me to the core. Although I knew that this passage was actually about God declaring that He would make the Gentiles clean and accept them into His family even though they were not Jews, in this moment, the Holy Spirit was highlighting this phrase and speaking it directly to my heart. God was telling me that I was not to call myself impure, dirty, broken, messed up, hopeless, or any other negative statement that I might speak over myself, for He calls me clean, healed, restored, beautiful, flawless, radiant and holy.

Who am I to disagree with God??? Peter was so sure he knew the truth, but he was seeing things from an earthly perspective and God was shaking up his paradigm and shifting his vision to see things from His perspective. And God was actually rebuking Peter for saying something that was not in agreement with what He was saying and doing. In the same way, I need to remind myself of the promises and truths of His Word that He has spoken about Himself and about me and call things as He does and not as I may see them or as the devil may portray them to me.

I want to be found agreeing with what my Father and Bridegroom says. Therefore, I will say with faith and confidence that, “I am clean.”

I am Clean