I awaken at three in the morning, a cracking thunder overhead and nothing between the impending rain and I but a tent. The four little ones slumber quietly even while the world around them shakes. Wind blows the tent shuddering from the pressure, the showering rain so loud it’s hard to think. The phone rings – a friend snug and safe in thier camper a few sites over. “Are you guys doing ok?” she asks. I tell her the tent is bearing the storm well, and the kids are resting. She notes concern for the inability to understand the severity of the storm – us all intentionally lost in the wilderness. I tell her I am enjoying the storm. “I think it is kind of fun” I say. She laughs and I am sure shakes her head. I tell her of the book I am reading to the kids that has caught me by surprise – “The Little House on the Prairie”. How Laura would be out on the prairie with her family with nothing but the canvas of her wagon overhead until Pa gets the house built. About how even when we are “roughing it” we are still so abundantly blessed and spoiled I suppose….
And today as I clean up from the trip, my mind wanders back to the storm. The darkness of the night as the Creation was stripped clean by water. My body was stripped clean by water too, many years ago, my shaking eight year old hands reading the story. I told about how I loved Him, and how He loved me, and how much I wanted to be washed in His grace, in His water. The pastor plunged me deep and I rose, my soul stripped bare for the world to see. The water dripped from my hair, the ends of my shirt, and I climbed out of the water to new life.
When silence came after the storm in the wee hours of Saturday morning, I unzipped the tent door and entered into the washed, water-dripping world. I thought of fresh steps in a clean creation, but first steps from a baptism of water don’t always stay clean and crisp. Sometimes the revealing rain makes the dirt in our lives more obvious, sticky. Like deep, thick mud on new tennis shoes. I think about the mud in my life – the sin that sticks and stains my path.
My shoes slide underfoot as I gingerly manuever attempting not to fall. My soul does that sometimes – walks through the filthy mud – the way it should not go – to get where it wants to go, rather than where He leads. And I get dirty as I try to walk a thin line between sin and saint and slip right into the mud. My soul feels stuck, the sin like quicksand pulling me down. I hear a murmer of lies from the evil one, “You will never be good enough for God”, “What makes you think you don’t belong in this situation?”, “It is really not so bad….”. But always in my frustration, despair and failure there is One…
“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 I rejoice, and shout – He is Faithful! This journey – though filled with storms, has never been about my ability to stay out of the mud, but about the cleansing water from Jesus bought through grace-dripping blood on the cross.
I see it ahead – piercing through the trees, a bit of light streaming onto the mud. That light which dries mud firm. His light makes soul-ground firm too. It penetrates the muddy mire so that we can walk strong again. My foot steps boldly forward for the journey, in His name.
At the foot of the cross,