Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Standing By A Purpose True"1 (Lyrics)
2 Peter 2:22b – A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud. (NIV)
My father-in-law was a French polisher who handed his craft down to his daughter. Everything that can be varnished or given a brilliant surface in our house has one. He was also a brilliant cabinet-maker who made a beautiful mahogany desk for me. Naturally, it was highly polished but in a rather light colour. As the years went by, dad passed on, and the colour on the desk faded. Finally, his daughter could resist re-polishing the desk no longer. On the desk, written in neat calligraphy, stood a little card which read:
- To say my desk is untidy implies exception; what you see is rule.
Inevitably, not only was the mahogany desk re-polished in a beautiful glossy brown, but its top was also treated to a rather expensive, quarter-of-an-inch-thick glass sheet, which added to the sheen.
It was a treat to look at, but half of my favourite little things had to go. People would want to see the nice grain in the wood, not the collection of things that amused me. Within days, every molecule that came off my eraser, every speck of dust, and worse still, every coffee cup ring cried out to be seen, and seen they were. My beloved desk became a burden.
Even my desk rostrum had been polished to the finest gloss. Allowed after the restoration was only my Bible on a neat white doily next to the desk rostrum. All else, including my facetious little sign, had to go into the six drawers in the two highly-polished pedestals — or be ditched!
My work bench had become a showpiece, but the sow that had been washed longed to wallow a bit longer in the mire. Gradually, I brought back the framed prayers of Lady Jane Grey and Jane Austin (surely they should be allowed). And so it went, until the pencil tower, the sharpener, and Wallace the Airedale, among others, were re-ensconced. However, I made sure to keep the desktop ultra-clean with my special cloths for that purpose.
Such a struggle is often the case when one becomes a Christian. There is an awkward period to overcome. What is sinful and what is not sinful is a problem. One is unsure of what one should or should not do. And people in that stage need careful handling. With my desk, many times, I felt like simply bringing back all the things I liked, even if they were not necessary, for who was going to deny me the right to have them? Many converts feel that the new life imposed on them is just too much to live with, and they quit. But I found that keeping the desktop neatly wiped regularly, by lifting up the articles I just had to have, actually enhanced the appearance of the desk. "And so it should be with Christians, old or new," I consoled myself. Like the regular removal of dust and those awful little things that come from nowhere onto the desktop, we ought regularly to go to the throne of grace and keep short accounts with the Lord.
But at length, the new life becomes one you never want to change. Everything that is introduced has to pass a rigorous inspection. Then, ever so gradually, the places where the glossy brown is not covered increase as the knick-knacks lose their fascination and are placed into the jumble sale box for charity or any other place but on the desk. In the same way, as we grow in grace, other things lose their charm, and that pleases the Polisher. His patience has paid off. All hindrances have to go. The person at the desk must have nothing to disturb his concentration. It is very easy to clutter one's workspace, but by grace, we will overcome. Our Lord will never leave us alone. He will be patient until every hindrance, everything that distracts is removed from our lives and His work of grace is complete.
Prayer: Lord God, help us so to order our lives that the Saviour needs to wash only our feet, and not our heads and our hands also, because He finds us, His disciples, washed clean all over. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.