Lingering evidence of the giant dust storm that hit our city a few weeks ago. We left for our trip to Washington a few days after the dust cloud hit our city, and I was hoping the frequent evening rains that mark the desert's monsoon season would wash all the dirt away while we were gone.
And they did. Kind of.
Most of the ground is now free of dirt. When you drive around, the once brown cars have returned to their original colors of red, blue, green, and white. You can no longer see visible dust floating through the air.
But the dirt is still there. Hidden in cracks and corners. Piled up under our patio table. Stuck to our front door. Lingering in our living room. Hiding out on the dashboard in my car.
As I was driving around this week, silently thinking about how annoying the dirt is, God convicted me with an analogy. I realized that this lingering dirt is so much like my own sin. If you don't look too closely, things look pretty clean. But upon closer inspection, the dirt is still there. It clings to my hand when I open my front door. It gets stuck to my feet when I walk out onto our deck. It makes me cringe when I see it on the tabletops in our living room when the lighting is just right.
I used to live my life pretending my dirt was not there. When I walked into my living room today, it did not look dirty. Not at all. It looked warm and clean and inviting like this...
Same with my car. It looks much cleaner than the day after the storm. Micah washed it for me before we left town. It's no longer competing for DIRTIEST car in Phoenix. But, yet, in the sunlight it still looks like this...
I used to live my life in a way that looked like my living room. Throughout high school, college, and into the first years of my job, everything looked pretty good upon first glance. I had good friends, led a few Bible studies, attended church regularly, even read my Bible quite a bit.
But if I looked beneath the surface, things were not right. There was grime there. Dirt. Dust. Filth. I was hiding all sorts of sin. Pride. Covetousness. Impurity. But I just pretended it wasn't there. I confessed it to no one. Not even God. Well, to keep myself "looking good" I had to confess sin sometimes, but it was rarely the REAL sin. It was the convenient "I'll just say this one sin that seems pretty mild, because I'm sure lots of other people are struggling with this too" kind of confession. And the dirt built up. And I honestly convinced myself it wasn't there at all. The living room looked good. Come in, have a seat, would you like a lemonade during Bible Study today?
Finally, after about 25 years of living my kind-of-clean life, God broke me. He revealed to me my own depravity. He showed me the filth that had been building up in my heart. And opened my eyes to how atrocious my sin is compared to His utter holiness. He showed me the truth of my own filth. Hidden and ignored for years.
And then He showed me something else. His Son. The one who truly makes all things clean and new. But I could never fully understand the love of Christ until God opened my eyes to how desperately dirty I was, with no hope of cleaning up the mess on my own.
And just as I notice the dust around my apartment most often during the day, when the sun shines and reveals the dirt that is really there, Christ does the same thing with my sin. When I let the true, clean, beautiful light of Christ into my life, He reveals the sin and darkness that linger in my heart...
And then, as my beloved Savior, He washes those sins away. Only He can do it.