Are you God’s rag?

Are you God's rag?

When you need to clean up a spill, what do you reach for? You grab a rag. You don’t clean up a mess with a gold ring. There are times when only a rag will do — to clean up an oil spill, broken eggs, or even a puppy’s accident.

How many times do I want to be a brilliant diamond trying to do the job of a scrap of cloth?

A rag does what it’s user asks of it, no matter what the task.  And when the job is done, the rag gets tossed into a corner, out of sight, and idle until its master has need of it again.

Can I be the Lord’s dirty rag? Can I respond willingly? Can I stay put?

Isaiah 64 says that all our righteous acts are but filthy rags. Our best efforts compared to God are nothing. But when his strong hand picks me up, I am useful.

To clean, restore, luster… or even bandage a wound.

Let me be your hand rag Lord. Use me as you will.

And when the time comes you will cleanse me and ring out all the dampness.

By your hand, I will be white as snow again.

Image source (image altered by Vincent Chough).

Heroes need not apply

The world sells us heroism. We have the Avengers and Spider Man and all sorts of other Saturday morning characters that overcome evil through heroic acts. Every young boy wants to grow up and be a super-man and defend the weak. Is this what God wants from us? What about David – giant killer and victorious in battle – he was a hero wasn’t he? Not exactly as we might imagine.

When Saul threw spears at David what did David do? Did he return fire? No. In our lives how often are we unnecessarily returning fire at the spears launched against us? Do we defend ourselves or let God be our strength? At one point David had a chance to kill Saul, end the threat against his life and claim the throne. But David did not want any of that. He only wanted to obey and accept God’s will. Saul was a central part in the process of molding David’s heart to God’s will. Saul seethed with jealousy against David, and he lusted for David’s death. This is what God wanted to happen. Can we accept such a situation? Are we willing to be broken in such a manner? Like David? Or like Jesus? Nobody wants it this way. Except God.

I don’t want to imply that God sends us suffering and trials to torment us, but whatever the explanation we must accept our life situation and allow it to form us for His service. Whatever the trial, it must be used to glorify the Father. Here we find true Christian heroism.

If we could kill the Saul’s in our lives, yet it was against God’s will, would we stay our hand? The abuse, the illness, the loss, the pain, the tormenter… who wouldn’t be rid of these things? David didn’t end the persecution and claim the glory. He refused to harm one hair on the head of his aggressor. This is the hero we must emulate in David.

When it is time to lay the giant low we must launch into battle without fear; when it is time to be merciful we must hold back. Yet we so often do the reverse – cringe in fear when we should be bold and lash out when mercy calls.

The persecution of the Christians comes in many perverse forms these days. We are ridiculed and ostracized. We are considered obsolete and archaic. We are ignored. We are condemned as atrocities are committed from within the church making our walk all the more difficult. So we bemoan our plight. Should we wish to be rid of this? Or do we accept it all as God’s will in order to give more glory to the Father? I speak of the most difficult things to accept here. How does one continue to praise and glorify Jesus when many have been wounded in His name? Here we encounter the miracle of faith. Someone who has been abused by a priest or pastor continuing to praise God… this is heroic and only a deeper wisdom and vision can understand as the rest of the world hurls spears at us.

And in our own misery and transgression do we also find heroics? David, as king, gave in to the temptation of fleshy desire and took Bathsheba. Then he had her husband murdered. Is this a hero? David was king. He could have done as he pleased. He could have written God out of his heart. Yet out of his misery and shame came the model of perfect repentance in Psalm 51…

“Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my iniquities. A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit. Do not drive me from before your face, nor take from me your holy spirit. Restore to me the gladness of your salvation; uphold me with a willing spirit. I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you. Rescue me from violent bloodshed, God, my saving God, and my tongue will sing joyfully of your justice. Lord, you will open my lips; and my mouth will proclaim your praise. For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it; a burnt offering you would not accept. My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.

A heart, broken in repentance, coming back to God. This is heroic. Because it reveals perfect justice and the true champion of our faith: Jesus Christ. Be a Christian hero, accept His will and carry a repentant heart. Let His mercy lay the giants low.

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Much of this post was inspired by Gene Edwards’ A Tale of three Kings: A Study in Brokenness. So if anything sounds like his, please give Mr. Edwards the credit.