The older I get, the more I recognize my depravity, the deep-down dirty of my thoughts, words and deeds, of my even deeper motivations and instincts. And the older I get, the more I know my need of Jesus. Kind of like Paul in Romans . . .
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15-16
And . . .
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25
Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I don’t struggle daily with my sin nature. My heart is prone to wander. Here on the farm, I see a lot of wandering . . .
Yesterday, the dog wandered where she shouldn’t, again. And yes, it was the same dog that dragged me into the quarry last week—Rose, our lovely yellow Lab. Last week, I got wet dealing with this dog. Same yesterday. What happened? Here we go . . .
I’m out jogging with Baker, the Yorkie, on our 44-acres of freshly cut trails. Baker is on a leash because he’s only 15 pounds, which makes him prime coyote bait. The vet told me so. Rose, on the other hand, is free to run because she stays on the property, usually. She’s a 70-pound Lab so I doubt any scrawny coyote is going to mess with her.
As Baker and I jog along, Rose takes off running through the tall field grasses. My sweat is running down the front and back of my body faster than the pace of my legs. It’s 80 and the air is thick with humidity.
Twenty minutes into my jog, I hear barking that means something—Rose has spotted wildlife. I’m thinking it’s a white-tailed deer, common on our property, that Rose has flushed out of its day bed in the vernal pond’s cattails. Or, I think it could be a turkey. Or a pheasant. We have lots of those on our farm too.
I come around the bend. Before I see Rose, I smell the particular wildlife she’s barking at. It smells strong and nasty. I finally spot Rose barking into a tall bush down the hill.
Oh, for heaven’s sake! She’s cornered a skunk!
We smell skunk all the time, usually as we’re driving down our country road. This time, however, the skunk smell is wildly odiferous! I’m thinking the spray covered at least ten of our acres. Looking at Rose, nose glued on the skunk in a bush, barking away, I figure there’s no point in trying to call her off. Not happening. Instinct has won and she has no interest in what’s coming once she gets home. So, I keep up with my jog, trying to skedaddle away from the stink. I head west and turn north.
Either Rose finally killed the skunk or gave up, I don’t know. But she finds Baker and me on the trail and passes us, giving us a generous whiff of her new fragrance. Just as I thought, Rose took a direct hit from the skunk.
Now in front of Baker and me on the trail, the headwind spreads her skunkiness into our nostrils to the point where I decide to ditch that skunk-dog and head cross-country.
When we finally arrive in the front yard with Rose waiting, the de-skunking procedure begins. Buckets of warm water. Long hose. Dog tied to the tree. Fresh & Clean dog shampoo. Tomato sauce.
Washing Rose, I suddenly realize how I’m pretty much like my dog. I keep running after my instincts—those little enticements promising much but delivering a direct hit on my soul, my body, my mind, my relationships. My wandering heart wants what it wants and too often forget Christ’s high price paid for my redemption.
Thankfully, God never leaves me alone, saturated with sin. He never abandons me to the yard because of my filth. He comes to me and does what I can’t do. He cleanses me, making me ready to enter His home.
As I give Rose a final rinse, washing off the last of the tomato sauce neutralizing her stench, I’m thankful for my God who cleans me, the one who can’t clean herself, the one who keeps messing up. And then I think, if I can have such mercy for a dirty dog and provide such tender care in cleaning her, making her fit for the inside of my house, how much more will God do for me? For you?
He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, this is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.