I had a dreadful thought yesterday afternoon. It wasn’t dreadful because of the circumstances surrounding it, and it wasn’t directed towards anyone. It wasn’t dreadful because of some irrational fear coming true. My thought was dreadful because of the ungrateful and dreadful place from which it came. After going grocery shopping with my husband yesterday, we came home and unloaded the car. Part of my kitchen counter was covered with grocery bags, and I thought to myself,
“I hate putting away groceries.”
I spent a few more seconds thinking about how long it would take me to put everything in its place and get rid of all the bags while I chastised myself for not owning the reusable grocery bags that somehow make you a better person. It only took a few seconds, but when I realized just how dreadful my thought was, I felt all kinds of shameful.
“I hate putting away groceries.”
I was instantly ashamed of my thought because of how ridiculous it was! Was I standing at my counter being grateful for the fact that I even have groceries to put away? No. Was I thanking the Lord for providing for me and my husband, or that my daily needs were more than covered? Nope. I was just complaining about aaallllll of the groceries I “had to” put away. And that’s when I realized something I already knew, but wasn’t really believing.
Most daily tasks are “get to’s” and not “have to’s”.
Think about it with me. What chores do you “hate” doing? Is it laundry? Maybe washing dishes or sweeping the floors? Those are not things you have to do. No one is making you do them. Those are all “get to’s”!
You get to do laundry because you are blessed enough to have clothes! Probably more than you need! You don’t have to wash dishes. You get to wash dishes because it means your family was fed, which means you had food to feed them and groceries to feed them with! And you get to put those groceries away! My goal here is not to shame you or make you feel icky. My goal is to share what I am learning through my own ickiness and ungratefulness, so that you might be able to adjust your perspective, too. You might already be really good at gratefulness! But I learned yesterday that I am not. And if you are there with me, we do not have to live in that dreadful place.
I actually thought about writing this post a few weeks ago, but I am glad I waited. If I wrote this post when I planned to, I would’ve been sharing something that I thought I was good at. But now that I’m coming from a place of inadequacy and dreadfulness, I can share these words with a spirit of repentance and a longing for a purified heart. Instead of sharing something I thought was from a place of wisdom and holiness, I get to share something that is from a place of sin and repentance and grace!
I was sweeping the floors a few weeks ago when I started mulling over this concept of “get to” vs. “have to”. I wrote a poem that was also a prayer, and planned on sharing it here with an encouragement to approach daily tasks with cheerfulness and thanksgiving. But those words at that time would have been a little pretentious and flimsy because I thought I was sharing some profound truth that I was lucky enough to discover and you were lucky enough to learn from me. And that, friends, is what hidden sin looks like. Sin has a way of creeping in and puffing me up. Sometimes sin can make you feel good about yourself until the truth is revealed and the darkness is exposed. And sin isn’t always obvious.
Psalm 19 has been a favorite of mine for many years. It begins with a beautiful truth about all of creation praising God.
1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
2 Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
The rest of the Psalm is just as beautiful, and never fails to make me feel good. And then the end of the Psalm takes a turn when David writes,
12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
and innocent of great sin.
14 May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
That part doesn’t make me feel as good. But “feeling good” is not the goal of reading Scripture, so we press on. My first thoughts after reading this verse are something like,
“What is David talking about- hidden sin? I don’t have hidden sin, and it definitely doesn’t control me!”
Well, actually, it does control me, and defensiveness helps reveal exactly where my hidden sin lurks. Sometimes I pray for the Lord to reveal my hidden sin, and I’m somehow surprised when he faithfully reveals it! Every time! (You’d think I would stop being surprised by now. God loves answering those kind of prayers). When I was surprised by my dreadfulness yesterday, I remembered praying that prayer a few weeks ago and I just had to laugh at myself. Of course I have hidden sin! It is called “hidden” for a reason! David doesn’t say “I know all of the obvious sin in my heart, cleanse me from these completely apparent faults!”. He says “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults!”.
And when we pray for the Lord to reveal the lurking sins and hidden faults that accumulate like gunk on our souls, he is faithful to both reveal them and forgive them. This is the refining process of sanctification. Sanctification is a really churchy word for “becoming holy”. And “holy” is another churchy word that just means being “set apart” or “being like God”.
When I bring my hidden faults into the light and confess them to the Lord, he forgives me and refines me and allows me to become more like Him. This is another “get to”. I don’t “have to” confess my faults and my sin! I get to! And when I do, the Lord is faithful to extend grace and carry me in a different direction.
The churchy way of saying it is, “I get to participate in sanctification.”
The not-churchy, everyday way of saying it is, “I get to be real and honest with myself and with God about my shortcomings and ickiness. And when I do, God doesn’t shame me or feel disappointed in me. He does not give me the punishment I deserve, and he does give me what I do not deserve! He gives me grace! He gives me grace so that I can move forward and become more like Jesus, who is completely pure and set apart.”
The truth is that I get to live my life in a way that is becoming more and more like Christ. But even then, my holiness is not dependent on my performance. I wasn’t planning on writing a post about the Gospel, but I believe it always needs to be shared! I never assume that the people reading my posts already know about Jesus. I actually assume the opposite. So if your soul is heavy and your heart is longing for truth, or even if you’ve heard these words a thousand times, just go with me for a minute. Your standing with God is not dependent on how you measure up to his standards. And if that’s what you’ve been taught, then I’m sorry. That is a really heavy burden to bear. Your standing with God is completely dependent on the person of Jesus, who received the punishment for ALL of your shortcomings and hidden faults and deliberate disobedience. All of it! Even the sin you didn’t know about, Jesus took upon himself and erased! He lived a life completely free from sin and dreadfulness and disobedience. And instead of making you feel bad for your faults and your disobedience, he says “I love you, and I forgive you, and I want you to have life.” No strings attached, no qualifying standards, no fine print! That’s it! That’s the Gospel! Jesus is good and I am not but I get to have life when I deserved death! And after we accept the free gift of forgiveness and life that Jesus offers, we get to be with him and agree with his holiness and become like him.
I know I’m leaving out some details and some churchy words, but it all comes down to this! If you’ve heard this before but never really lived like it was true, can I ask you what is keeping you from accepting it? If you think that you’re “too far gone”, I can assure you that you are not. You are never too dreadful for the grace of Jesus. You are never too icky, too full of shame, or too far down one road to turn around. If you accepted it a long time ago but have been in a really apathetic place (which was me recently), you can accept it again! It’s for you, too!
The grace of God is not small.
And when you accept forgiveness for your sin, both the hidden and the out in the open kind, the natural response is gratefulness. I get to be grateful because God has given me life when I deserved and was on a road towards death. That’s it.
I get to become more like Jesus because he made it possible for me to be free of guilt and free from shame. I get to agree with Jesus’ holiness because that is what defines me. I get to be thankful for what the Lord has provided in my life. He has provided every good thing. What good do I have that is not from the Lord? Every good thing in my life is because of the grace of God. Even my groceries. Even my laundry. My breath and my life and my family and my home are all results of God’s grace. Sure, I have my dreadful moments still, and you will too. Sometimes they look like ungratefulness. Sometimes they look like selfishness or pride or many other things. But because of the grace of Jesus, I get to move forward from my dreadful moments with a little more wisdom and a lot more gratefulness. My life is full of “get to’s”, and my heart is full of gratefulness for every last one of them. If you need the grace of Jesus, just tell him. He already gave it to you. If you need to be freed from hidden faults, just ask him. He already freed you. If you need to adjust your perspective on the daily tasks of life, just remember why you get to tend to them. If you need to do some laundry today or put away groceries or wash some dishes, just remember that you get to and you don’t have to.
I think that gratefulness is where the freedom is. Gratefulness is where we can agree with God’s holiness and be freed from our dreadfulness. Tending to your home gives you plenty of daily opportunities to choose gratefulness. Tending to your family and your marriage give you plenty of daily opportunities to depend on God’s grace. I know that I will move forward from this moment of my own dreadfulness to be more dependent on God’s grace for my hidden faults. I’ll move forward knowing that most of life is full of “get to’s”. I’ll move forward and put away my clean laundry and wash the dirty dishes because I get to, and because they remind me that all is grace.