Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Clothed In Righteousness

We stripped wallpaper tonight. Ahem...husband stripped wallpaper, wife watched and encouraged and tried not to irritate husband. Anyway, as we are preparing to have our roof replaced, we've been taking down all the wallpaper in the house to be sure we know exactly where the roof has leaked. As Charlie was taking the wallpaper down in the master bedroom, one wall became particularly messy. With each strip of wallpaper he removed, chunks of the plaster also came tumbling down. By the end of the night, one huge section of the wall was missing and the bare lathe was exposed...what an unsightly mess! I found myself wishing we had left well enough alone and kept the wallpaper on the wall, hiding the entire problem.

I tend to think that way spiritually, too. I like things to look pretty and neat and perfect on the outside, when in reality, an unsightly spiritual condition is lurking underneath. As an example (one of many, many others), when we discovered I was pregnant with our third child, I was gripped with panic from the very beginning. I was starting to realize how much work our two toddlers already were and now, we were adding another little person to the mix. Panic turned to despair; despair gave way to anger; anger swelled into full-blown depression. I didn't pray. I didn't read my Bible. A dark, ominous cloud always hovered over my thoughts, coloring every situation an ugly grey. I was consumed. But, I did a very good job of keeping my depression a secret. I put on a smile and acted as if everything was alright. Some days, I even fooled myself!

When Olivia was born, the cloud moved off into the distant horizon for a bit. We had been blessed with another beautiful daughter and I thought the depression would disappear in the face of such blessedness. I was wrong. It came back, stronger than ever. Only now, I was busier and sleep-deprived. It was a terrible mix of circumstances and emotion. I was in real trouble...

My husband finally stepped in and took over. At my lowest point, he found me sobbing on the bathroom floor. I couldn't even vocalize what I was thinking or feeling. He didn't try to hug me or talk to me or give me advice. He sat down with me, opened his Bible and started reading. I know it was something from Ephesians, but for the life of me I cannot remember which passage. Somehow, the words were soothing. After awhile, I stopped crying and he put his hands on me and prayed. Later, after the kids were tucked in, he gently asked me if I was spending time with the Lord. I couldn't look at him or even answer. Silent tears streamed down my face and he knew the answer. We prayed again and he read more scripture to me.

A few days later, I happened to be on the phone with my dear sister, Lyn. Somehow, (of course it was the Lord!) we ended up talking about how things were going, spiritually speaking. I ended up crying and confessing to her that I was not really following after the Lord with any real intention. I had a hard time finding the words, but she ministered to my heart. She accepted my confession and led me in prayer of repentance. She then invited me to start attending a weekly Bible study with a few other women. I was hesitant to go, but she insisted I speak with Charlie about it. Charlie practically beamed when I casually mentioned the study. He was all too eager to take the girls on and give me the opportunity to be in the Word and in fellowship with other women!

That was over a year ago and I can confidently say that the Lord has lifted the dark clouds of depression. That's not to say that I don't have days or even strings of days when I feel "depressed" or "down." But, now, I recognize those times as times when I am out of fellowship with the Lord or when I am trying to cover over some spiritual ugliness.

"I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exalt in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness..." Isaiah 61:10a

Like the wallpaper covering the broken wall, we can also cover over our sins with a pretty attitude. But, there, lurking beneath the surface is ugly sin, keeping us out of fellowship with the Lord. We have a choice: keep up the wallpaper, the false pretenses, the false attitude of happiness, or, we can allow God to have complete access to us. If we choose to allow God that access, we can be certain He will bring into light our sin, our ugly walls in desperate need of repair. Then, He will go to work diligently repairing our hearts, restoring fellowship, lightening our load, bringing us joy. The choice is ours, but the work is His.

God, I love that about You, that You would want to do the work of restoration in my heart. I love that You are always reaching out for me, wanting to bring me closer to You. Thank You for giving me a desire to be righteous. Forgive me for the many, many times that I have attempted to cover over my sin with something spiritually ugly. Thank You for the blood of Jesus that covers me. In Your Holy Name, Amen


Anonymous said...

Truly beautiful.

Your husband is one of a few. I got teary eyed reading how he ministered to you right there on the bathroom floor and prayed for you. It is a need I have in my life and I guess that is why it touched me so. Husbands could do so much for their wives if only they would. You are a blessed woman.

Jen said...

Thanks, Ellie! I had a hard time writing the post and I , too, was teary, thinking about how well-suited my husband is for me. And, how God uses him so often to meet a need in my life. I know I am blessed...