It is currently raining, pouring down vast amounts. As I passed my kitchen window, I was struck anew at the beauty of the trees that stand just outside our house. The greens were so much deeper and brighter. Each tree had been washed clean of all the dirt and grime that accumulates between a good rain. Even what very little grass we have is prettier after the deluge.
It struck me as I was thinking of the beauty of the trees, that just this week I had asked God to wash my heart. Not just to free me from the stain of sin, but to get rid of the muck that builds up as we tread through this life. Anger, bitterness, confusion, fear, all of those emotions that I like to stack up in my heart and let fester, I wanted them gone. God can automatically free us from our baggage, but He rarely chooses to so in my experience. Instead, He asks us to get down deep in the ugly and scrape it out. Sometimes, though, we just need to turn on a high powered hose and knock it out with force. We can do this by flooding our hearts and souls with truth, and grace, and mercy, and beauty. By forcing ourselves to focus on the good things, the things that bring us hope and joy, we are power washing our minds and our hearts. And we are refreshed and renewed by beauty underneath our mess.
Philippians 4:8 tells us to, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” When all around you swirls grief, anxiety, and fear, thinking about pure and lovely anything is almost impossible. Watching the rain today, with it’s strength just pushing the dirt off, helped me see that we can’t always accomplish this task on our own. Those branches couldn’t scrape the dirt off by themselves, it took a mighty force to remove the ugly and get to the beauty. We have such a force, He is the Holy Spirit, and He will wash us clean if we let Him. He will flood our minds with the things of God and we will be able to see the pure and lovely and admirable in us and around us.
In order for this to happen, we have to ask Him to do so, and then allow Him to do His work. I am good at seeing the positive that is happening around me. However, I am also good at holding on to the negative around me. Too often, that negative stuff becomes my focus. When I let the Holy Spirit push those negative things away, I need to not pick them back up again. I need to let them go and focus my eyes, ears, and heart on the truths that fill me with joy and hope. I need to focus on the good happening around me. And when I do, there is beauty revealed underneath all the dirt.