The mud was caked thick. This was no light dusting, no fine layer. This was chunks and lumps of my children’s delight piled in drying glops. On my floor. And some days, some moments, it threatens to be my undoing.
Who in the world lives here? I wonder.
It doesn’t stop at mud clumps. Sometimes it’s dirty light switches that set me off; remnants of dinner or a sticky snack left behind in places I barely remember to clean. When the sun peaks in through my finger-printed windows at just the right angle (or just the wrong one, maybe?) the walls in my house tell stories I’m trying to cover up with cute throw pillows, disguising with my favorite Wallflowers. There is dirt in so many places. Who in the world lives here?
We built our home 4 years ago now. It was new, for 5 minutes, new. It’s possible I’m exaggerating there; it may have been 3 minutes. But that leads to the sobering fact that all of this dirt, all of this un-newing, is mine. Dents in walls, knicks in paint, dirty light switches, mine. Wonderful. I’m still wondering, who lives here?
Some days it grabs my focus more than others, it strangles a bit, all of the un-newing. All of the dirt, constant crumbs, my barely keeping up with it, stirs a bit of desperation. It wants to swallow me whole. It wants to weigh me down, and turn me into a girl who throws hard stares, sharp words, at the simply living and being children who really do live here. Like a cancer it eats away at my gratitude, my appreciation for any and all of it. Because, dirt.
I could wax long about kids over dirt, but we all know that, in the purest sense, in our slow and remorseful moments. Of course, kids over dirt. Relationship over dirt. Husbands and friendship, life-giving and living, over dirt.
But we also know the real weight of dirt, the weight of mess when you turn around and entire rooms have been destroyed in a moment. In a breath, a small helper was getting a snack and dumped most of the contents of the pantry on the floor. That exasperation, that tired, is every bit as real as my desire for gratitude, my fight to see the blessing.
And so Paul’s words in Philippians 3:13-14 hit me something different.
“…I do not count myself to have apprehended: but one thing I do…”
This is his heads up right here, friends. For you and me both. Look, see, here. There’s this one thing. I don’t get it all, I haven’t figured it all out or accomplished it all, but there is this one thing that I get.
Me either, Paul. Me either. I’m listening.
“…forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…”
Forgetting the past, the yesterday. Forgetting my successes and failures. That day I was a champ and the house was a showroom or the 23 days in a row I have had dirty light switches. Forgetting how many times I’ve cleaned that stinking mudroom only to find, oh yes, more mud. We’ll just lay that all down right here.
“…I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
He’s calling us out, bidding us, stretch farther. It’s uncomfortable to keep going some days, because I’m tired. Sometimes the journey feels long and hard. Paul knows. He lived it; he knows it. That’s why he said reach, it’s going to take action.
Is it possible that this is about more than me cleaning the mudroom again? Is it possible than it’s more than another round of carpool, another nightly dinner, cleaning light switches yet again? Another mundane task at your job, menial service. Surrender.
What if this is the very gospel with shoes on? What if these, the smallest acts of faithfulness, the daily faithful, preach louder than any words we ever speak?
Is it possible that my attitude, my heart, speaks the gospel more clearly, more succinctly, than any words I could ever write?
Cleaning toilets once again, I serve, I stretch, reaching upward. Disciplining, teaching, correcting with patience and grace, yet again, stretching, reaching upward. Another round of dinners, dump the trash, pay the bills, continually tired, humbled. We have it in us, because we have Him in us, hemming us in, bidding us step, stretch, because right there, even amidst the clumps of dirt in my mudroom, His power is being made perfect.
In us. Through us. If only we are brave enough to see it.
Keep reaching, friend; keep stretching. He sees. He knows. There is a prize. We have been called.
I’m stretching right along with you.