Katharine Barrett has a devotional book out that goes by seasons, called Grace and Fresh Ink. I scrolled over to "Summer" to see if there would be a word that would feel like refreshment. I don't know about you, but oftentimes if my physical environment starts to feel infinitely oppressive or uncomfortable, my soul starts to feel much the same way.
Now, Katharine lives in Canada and I am quite sure that their summer is much different than our summer in Texas, for she is talking about rust. Rust means rain, which we don't see a lot of down here in August. Nevertheless, this struck me:
The world is full of rusty metal people and I am one of them. Neglect, mistreatment, and plain old rain of life have left us rusty, and maybe a bit messy. By the standards that exist in the world...we definitely don't have it all together as the painted and polished (who, by the way, are rust hiding beneath a coat of paint). Often, we take on the labels: discarded, ignored, or not quite good enough, but we are loved...He sees beauty when He looks at me...And He will shine through me.This piece of the devotional has got me thinking about what makes me rusty, what makes us rusty. I think about a piece of metal laying out in the elements, exposed to the world, bare, without an ounce of protection. And yes, this is it...
I have exposed myself to the world without protecting myself from the elements.
I feel a bit rusty now, in this moment. This rust, it makes me uncomfortable in my own skin. I begin to search for things that will calm the reaction that is happening inside of me and yet, so often I grasp at things that do not satisfy, leaving me vulnerable to even more corrosion. I start to believe that a glass of wine will bring peace or to get lost in a book will take away my troubles momentarily. And while I love me a glass of wine and a great book, I know that they are simple respites and to use them as an escape hatch is to ignore the power of Jesus. The escapes are not life, nor soul, changing. If I continue to believe that I need an escape in order to make it through, I will find myself in flight from the only thing that will scrape off the rust and make me shine again -- my relationship with Jesus.
I hear the reading last week at church, words from Ephesians chapter 3, about being rooted and grounded in love. I compare this image with that of a piece of iron hastily flung outside on the grass. How often have I flung myself out there? All the times that I have done things to meet the expectations of others instead of the expectations of Jesus. All the times I have been dissatisfied with that which God has graciously given me and I've gone on my own hunt for more. All the times I have said "I trust You" with my mouth and then gone behind the scenes to try to manipulate things in my favor.
All these times, I have been that iron rod in the middle of the grass laid bare in the elements and simply corroded.
I have this natural tendency to want to hide my corrosion -- to paint over the hurt and shame, but when I do that, I inevitably try to hide from God. But today, the priest quoted an old gospel hymn:
If you wait until you are better, you won't come at all.And I think, if I never come stand before Him with all my rust, I will never understand what it truly means to be rooted and grounded in love. Is that a trade I want to pass up?
I'd rather be rusty and know I am loved by Jesus than painted and perfect and think I might be loved by the world.
What about you? How do you face your rustiness?
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