Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dirty Little Secret

There's a whole lotta dirt in the Bible. 

If you think it's just a hum-drum collection of stories about cookie-cutter Christians and their squeaky-clean lives, then think again. From the dust of the ground that formed the first man in the Garden of Eden to the dirt the woeful sailors throw on their heads as they mourn the burning of Babylon in the book of Revelation, you just can't seem to thumb through a few pages of scripture without getting your hands dirty. There's temptation, seduction, incest, prostitution, adultery, vengeance, murder, and more. 

If it sounds like I'm talking about a racy New York Times best-seller, I AM.

Not only is the Bible the best-selling book of all time, it's the best selling book of the year. Every Year. To the tune of half a billion dollars annually. Don't believe me? Google it.

It might be called the holy book, but the Bible is chock-full of unholy people. 

And I'm not talking about the villains here. I'm talking about our beloved protagonists. The people whose lives we follow. The people after God's own heart. The people on whom His favor rests. Over and over again, God chooses to tell His love story for humanity through the filthy lives of the fallen. Through the scandalous deeds of the unrighteous. The unclean. And with this much dirt to work with, it's a good thing God has a green thumb. 

I have often wondered what kind of dirt I am. 

Jesus lays it out for us pretty clearly in the parable of the four soils. Some dirt is too rocky and shallow. Plants spring up quickly, but they have no roots so they are scorched by the sun and wither away to nothing. Some dirt is bedded with thorns that grow up and choke the young seedlings. And sometimes there's no dirt at all, but a path. A broad path with a wide gate that leads to destruction. It's the way of the world. The way for those who follow the crowd, not the road less traveled. 

Me? I like a dirt road. 

And being a southern girl, my favorite ones are made of red Georgia clay and lined with rows and rows of peach trees as far as the eye can see. Clay so red that it stains your bare feet and completely devastates your clothes. It leaves its mark on you. It makes for dang sure you never forget your adventures in the sticks.

I'd like to think I'm the good soil. 

The kind that produces a crop thirty, sixty, a hundred times what was sown. The kind of soil that gardeners love. It's loamy and mealy-- soft, dry, and crumbly-- in your hands. It has just the right combination of silt, sand, and clay. It's rich in minerals and lets air and water penetrate right down to the roots. 

That's the kind of dirt I want to be. 

The kind that Jesus leaves his footprints in. The kind that produces something lasting and worth the wait. The seeds may not spring up quickly, but when they do, their roots go deep and they are well-grounded. They can't be scorched and withered by the sun. They can't be plucked away by birds or choked to death by weeds. He who has ears, let him hear (Matthew 13).

Here's a dirty little secret for figuring out what kind of soil you're working with. 

It's called the jar test: Take a sampling of your soil, put it in a small jar, and shake vigorously. Then, let the dust settle overnight. In the morning, you'll finally see distinct layers of soil. Sand at the bottom, clay at the top, and silt inbetween. It's only after the soil is tested and tried that you know exactly what kind it is. 

But me? I don't like to be tested. 

I don't like to be sampled and sifted. I don't like to be shaken vigorously. I have been through trial by fire before and came out burned and scarred for life. But the thing is, you can never really know yourself, all the nooks and crannies of your inner-most being--both the good and the bad you are capable of--until you are tested. Until you are shaken. Until you are sifted. 

And then you wait...

And then the dust settles... 

Then you know who you are in the morning. 

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