Ten minutes ago, I was standing in the small room that juts out into a tiny corridor on one side of our apartment pod. The buildings are each shaped like a sphere or hexagon of sorts, and the small passage on the side is where the laundry machines are. I have had many clothes piling up in my hamper for days now.
There was a nice breeze coming in the window as I dripped blue detergent into the machine. It's been blazing hot outside for about a month now - I think we're all finally getting acclimated. When I was in Honduras the summer before graduating high school and then in Panama the summer between sophomore and junior year of college, I remember wondering how the Central Americans could wear jeans and zip up sweatshirts when I had sweat dripping down my back in a T-shirt and basketball shorts sticking to my thighs.
The breeze in the laundry room, however, was cool and gave way to rain as I shook out a pair of pants and rubbed Resolve on a coffee stain. It was peaceful in the little room, white light from the grey sky and the leaves rustling in the wind. I wandered around, dropping the light colors in together. It smelled like dryer sheets, but not overwhelmingly so. It was quiet. It felt like a room filled with grace and favor.
The presence of God, near.
Here is a truth I've known but haven't freely believed until last week: My Father will never leave.
Do I really believe that? I think one of the most common reasons people stray from the Lord is because they don't think they're worth it. They think they're too sinful, too shameful, too messy to continue following Christ. In a way, they reject themselves for Jesus before even giving Him a chance.
You know that voice of accusation in your head? That "You...you...you..." voice?
"You know, grace is going to run out soon if you keep doing this."
"You're too far gone."
"If they knew what you really did, they would leave you."
"You don't really have friends."
None of those are Jesus. All of those are Satan. The devil is a coward, so he has to slink around, masking himself as the truth. It's no wonder John 8:44 says there is no truth in the devil - that he is a liar and the father of lies.
This is why we need the Holy Spirit and other believers. The devil wants to pull you out of the crowd, split you up from your community. If he can separate you from the herd, so to speak, he has a much better chance of making you believe his lies and attacking you in the worst way. We need gospel friends who are willing to lovingly remind us of the truth or slap us up a bit and say "Wake up!" This only happens, though, if we are consistently pursuing community and responding when community pursues us.
It's really hard to let walls down. It's really terrifying to be completely real and reveal your sin and thought life to another human being. But it is also beautiful when it happens. Suddenly, darkness has to flee because there is light. The devil can't handle that kind of truth. It is a bold move to verbally tell someone what's really going on in you're life, but it's also what Christ calls us to (James 5:16, Proverbs 28:13). We all have scars, and He gives strength to speak about them to those who ask Him for it.
And, there is the truth that we can cling to above all:
As a believer, there is nothing you can do to separate yourself from the deep, deep well of grace and affection that Jesus is. He is fiercely jealous of your affections. You are continually sought after by Him. You can feel safe, now.
In the laundry room, as I am waiting for the washer to stop spinning, I press my nose against the screen of the window and the mist from the rain is cold on my face. This, I know:
His love won't stop. He will always come for me. He'll never leave.
So I will finish washing my clothes now and rest in all of this. I am joyful. God is here, even now. Don't give into lies about your identity and worth. You are thoroughly accepted and deeply loved. Press on.