Monday, November 18, 2013

It doesn't have to be that way

The shoes were stained by some adventure (or forgotten misadventure) that made them look scruffy, neglected, and no longer appropriate for most occasions.  The shoes looked really bad. They resided in that ruined state under the shelf in the mud room for months where their presence could be ignored.  That's just the way they're going to look from now on, I surmised.  I mentally relegated them to lawn duty and rainy Saturday morning errands.

One day as I was soaking other stained items in Oxyclean, I gave those shoes one last shot.  I wet the stained part, made a paste of the cleaning powder, and let it sit for several hours.  When I finally rinsed them, my other soaking items came clean, but the shoes looked no different.  Well, at least, I tried.  That's just the way they are going to look from now on.

Lately, I have been faced with a difficult situation without a clear solution.  I have prayed about it, but find myself still in God's waiting room about it.  Maybe, perhaps, that is just the way it is, a difficult situation I need to live with.  But in the past few weeks, I have felt God urging me, yes, to continue waiting on Him, but to also apply a wild imagination to it -- not in a fear kind of way, but in faith.

And in the process, God has helped me to seek His vision about it, to pursue every dimension, to pray it through from completely different angles, and to see it from His grace.  No quick answers have arrived on my doorstep from Federal Express, but each day a new way emerges of seeing and praying.  His waiting room is not a passive place of complacence, but a living and active listening, watching and obeying which invades everything I do and think and say.  Solutions are not often just one time events, but found in a faithful following as God makes all things new.

On my way downstairs one morning last week, I set those stained shoes down on the laundry room counter as I loaded the washing machine.  And there on the counter, right next to those shoes, was a bottle of Dawn detergent.  A new idea hit me pointblank in the head.  Could those stains actually be some kind of grease, impervious to Oxyclean, the king of laundry battles, but a perfect fit for Dawn?  Dawn is known for tackling tough grease so gently it is even used on small birds caught in oil spills. My skepticism tried to close that door, trying to persuade me, "Nothing is going to clean those shoes.  You are wasting your time.  Gentleness is not going to work."

And my wild imagination said, "It can't hurt."

I dripped the blue liquid onto the stains and scrubbed it into the shoes with a brush.  It was not until later that day when I transferred the wet clothes to the dryer that I noticed the shoes.  I rinsed away the detergent.  And the shoes were clean, no stains in sight.  They didn't have to be that way after all. 

It just took another approach.

Show me, LORD,
    how to pray differently
even in the midst of the impossible
         even in my everydays
and apply Your grace to it.

Come now,
let us reason together,
          says the LORD;
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.

                        Isaiah 1.18


Julie Lewis said...

Preach, my friend, preach....

Julie Lewis said...

Preach, my friend, preach...