I left the house this morning knowing that today would be the day Chelsea and I would join another mission team and leave for a rural village outside of Gaborone to help with a VBS. More specifically, I left the house knowing I was clean andcomfortable.
Unfortunately, this feeling of comfort did not last long. Drew (our fearless leader) had informed Chelsea and me that when we go to the village we should wear a long skirt. If you ask him, he will deny ever saying any such thing. The matter of if he said it or not will forever be argued but the point is, Chelsea and I arrived at the missionaries home only to discover that no one else is wearing a skirt. No one.
When we arrived at the site, we were put in charge of groups consisting of about 60 children. For the next few hours, we herded our kids from station to station, laughing and singing with them as we went.
By the time I arrived back in Gaborone, I was covered in dirt. My hands and feet looked like they had recently been given a very uneven spray tan. There was sand in my eyes and my hair and I had a permanent taste of dust in my mouth. I was filthy. Chelsea and I were both filthy and all we wanted to do was get back to our host homes as quickly as possible, take off our stupid skirts, and wash all the dirt away.
Unfortunately, when we phoned our host family we were informed that no one was home, they were all at the church. We were sorely disappointed at having to postpone our baths.
When we stepped out of the car, I remember experiencing a distinct feeling of ‘grossness.’ I didn’t want anyone to look at me, smell me, or even come within a ten-foot pole of me. We walked in the sanctuary where we heard our friends laughing and singing. They responded to our arrival with handshakes and fist bumps despite our warnings of our current state of sanitation. One guy in particular, BK, approached us with a huge smile and greeted Chelsea with a big hug. When he turned to me to do the same, I shook my head and said, “No, no BK! I am filthy and I smell awful! You do not want to hug or touch me, I promise!” I felt like no one should touch me until I was clean. But BK simply shrugged his shoulders, told me it really didn’t matter how dirty I was, and wrapped me in a huge bear hug.
I choked back an overwhelming feeling of gratitude because in that moment, through BK’s simple display of love, I was brought to a deeper picture of Christ’s unconditional love for His children.
So many times I leave the house feeling spiritually clean and comfortable. I have spent time in the Word, I have committed my day to the Lord, and I am ready to face the day fully focused on Him. But somewhere along the way, I get distracted. I get dirty. The dust and stench of life stick mercilessly to my hands and face. I become filthy. And at the end of the day, I return feeling disgusting and untouchable. When God leans in to comfort me I wave my arms and shout, “No, no Father! I am filthy and I smell awful! You do not want to hug or touch me, I promise!” I want to purge myself of all the dirt and all the grime before I come to Jesus.
But here’s the amazing thing. God shrugs and tells me that it really doesn’t matter how dirty I am; He wants to hug me anyway.
Most of the time, these moments frustrate me. I think, “How could I have started the day off so strong and then come home exhausted and covered in filth?” But just as you expect a child to come back dirty and tired after being allowed to play outside all day, God knows we will always come back with another spot of dirt or another scar.
Life as a believer is a new challenge every day. Every day we walk into another desert, another mud pit, another sand storm. But despite our filth, we don’t have to wash before we come to Christ. We come before the throne just like we are, dirt and all, with our hands outstretched asking to be cleansed. This is the beauty of His grace: that no matter how filthy we are, God’s blood will always be enough to cleanse us again for a new day.