I think I can honestly say that my absolute favorite part of this new house (which I promise to tell the story of someday) is that it has a fireplace. If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen the pictures of our iFire or digital flames back in December (because we didn’t have a fireplace then) when it was so cold in DFW. It was a prerequisite that I refused to live without this time around.
With the fireplace comes the fireplace tools, something we have never had before, and is a source of entertainment for our 5 year old. I’ve told him countless times not to touch them or play with them (like I have about a hundred other things too). On Sunday morning as we were getting ready to visit a fellowship here, I walked out into the living room and saw Josiah holding the poker, upside down in his hands, trying to put it back on the rack. I was upset because he was disobeying me again. He had gotten soot all over his hand and was about to ruin his shirt. I walked around the furniture to take it from him, and that is when I noticed the dark lines in the very very cream colored carpet (who in the world invented cream colored carpet?). Not only had he disobeyed, but he had made a mess that I was going to have to clean up. I scolded him and told him that because it was a repeat offense, he was now grounded for two days. After washing his hands, he went into his room and began to wail. I waited a few minutes before calling him into my room and pulling him into my lap. He wouldn’t talk to me, just cried alligator tears, with an occasional real one slipping out. When he was finally willing to listen to me, I said, “Okay, buddy. That’s enough crying. I know you’re upset about the fact that you are grounded, but that is the consequence to disobeying Mommy. We’re not going to let it ruin our entire day, though. I am not mad at you anymore, it’s over. No more crying.” It took some convincing before he finally wiped his tears and acted like himself again. He left my room, but I sat there, alone, having a bit of a revelation.
The Father and I have been on a bit of a self-discovery journey this past week. He has opened up my eyes to some things in my heart that were in need of both of our attention, and I feel as though I have been stripped down to the core as I see all of the things that I have exalted in my life against who I know Jesus to be. I have been facing some heart issues that I’d already gained victory over in the past, repeat offenses, if you will, and I have been spending a lot of time at the foot of the cross, trying to make sense of what is going on.
A few days ago when I was in a really low place, I had an image of the foot of the cross pop into my head, and it wasn’t pretty. I thought to myself, “Man there is a lot of crap here at the cross, and I’m just sitting in it. I do not want to be here anymore.” I knew, as soon as the thought crossed my mind, that it was in complete opposition to the way the cross is to be viewed, but for the life of me, I couldn’t get past it. It was a picture of actual excrement surrounding that precious cross and I felt gross about being in the middle of it. That’s exactly how the enemy wants me to feel about the sin in my life. Gross. Guilty. Shameful. Crappy. I stayed sitting in that spiritual pile of excrement for a few days before I felt like the Father started to get through to me.
As I sat in my room on Sunday having my conversation with Josiah, I heard the Father speak my words back to me, almost verbatim.
Okay, Julie. That’s enough crying. I know you’re upset about the mess and what it means for your heart, but we’re not going to let it ruin our day. I’m not mad at you, it’s over. You’re forgiven. No more crying.
I have been playing that over in my head repeatedly, and trying to reconcile it with the image of the cross that’s been screening in my head. The enemy wanted me to believe that the cross was simply a dumping ground, and it wasn’t just my crap there, but everyone else’s too. If I stayed there long enough, I would have seen every single thing I’d ever brought to the cross, and my guilt and shame would have grown to the point of utter despair and would have isolated me, which is exactly what the devil wants. But the truth is that Jesus’ death on the cross was for the freedom of sin. Sin no longer has power over us. Sin no longer isolates us from the Father. It sounds so Sunday School and cliche, but I’m thirty-two years old and the stupid devil is still trying to warp my take on it. When we bring our sin to the cross, Jesus’ blood washes it away. Washes the residue off our fingers, the stench off of our bodies, and then it is gone.
Josiah made a mess in the living room, but I cleaned it up. I got carpet cleaner, which cost me something, and I cleaned it up. It still needs some scrubbing, but it’s getting there. I made a mess of my heart by forgetting some things I know to be true, and allowing the enemy to start lying to me in that crafty way he does where he sounds like he’s telling the truth. It cost Jesus His life to clean up my mess, but He paid that price for me because he loves me, and he doesn’t want me to relive my mistakes every time I come to him. He doesn’t hang on to them so that I remember them every time I come. He doesn’t hold my sin over me to control me with guilt. That’s what the enemy does. No, when I come to the cross, the ground is bare, the slate is clean. I am invited to lay my burdens down and the minute I do, they’re gone. It’s a daily battle, I have to be vigilant to take thoughts captive and remind myself that I have been redeemed and washed clean, that I am forgiven, and that I am so much more than the enemy wants me to believe that I am. I tell you what though, it feels so much better to sit under a loving Father than it does to sit in a pile of crap.
What is the enemy holding over your head today? Can you hear the Father’s voice?
We’re not going to let it ruin our day. No more crying. You’re forgiven.
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