July 19, 2010

Can I Take a Shower Now?

I thought I knew "dirty." Yesterday I learned I had no idea.

Picture a mud puddle. Now make it a hundred times wider. And ten times deeper. Now add mud mountains and mud-filled gulleys. Got it?

Now picture 4,550 normally sane, sanitary (at least I'm assuming they were) men, women and children muddling through this mucky morass—voluntarily. And oh, did I mention... strategically place military men to assure no one runs through it. Listen for them shouting, "Why are you running? Get down on your belly!"  "You, in the red shirt—get down on your belly!" "Ma'am, yeah you. Get down on your belly!" Now picture everyone dropping to their knees, sliding on their bellies and crawling through it! Ugh!

The result? See for yourself.

This 10K and 5K military-style obstacle course event also offered an abbreviated version for kids. Our son was one of the 400 "Adventure Kids" who participated. They ran up hills and down, crawled under netting, scrambled over hay bales and ended at the pièce de résistance—the mud pit. Kids from four to thirteen mucked through the mire just like the grownups.

Here's our little guy going through it...

He liked doing the race but quickly discovered he didn't like being that filthy. "I feel like I'm going to throw up. Can I take a shower now?"

I don't think my son has ever asked, let alone practically begged, to take a shower. He's perfectly content to live with accumulated sweat, grime and dirt. Only when mud-saturated did the need become overwhelming.

This entire event may make you shudder with disgust or giggle with glee. You may want run as far away as possible or sign up for the next one. Regardless, one fact remains. Mud happens.

And sooner or later we all get dirty.

This got me thinking about what the Bible has to say about mud.

Generally mud is not well regarded in Scripture. It's a place of punishment (Job 30:19). It's the consequence of being vanquished (2 Samuel 22:43). It's something to be rescued out of (Psalm 40:2). It's what the wicked stir up as they toss about like ocean waves (Isaiah 57:20). Mud was associated with evil, punishment and human suffering. Apparently the ancients didn't have as much fun playing in the stuff as we do.

But in the New Testament Jesus gives us a new view of mud—as an ingredient to healing. In John 9, Jesus and his disciples encounter a blind man. Jesus ignores the why's and who's of their questions about the reason for the man's blindness and sets to work. He gathers dust from the ground, spits on it and makes mud. Then Jesus puts the mudcakes on the blind man's eyes. Miraculously after the man washes his eyes in a nearby pool, he can see. (John 9:1-12)

Now, I haven't found any commentary that specifically analyzes the mud so I might be off-base, but I'm  wondering about the mud's significance. Is it a visual reminder of the man's infirmity? Is it a metaphor for our suffering or spiritual blindness? Can our "mud" in Jesus' hands actually be a good thing?

As we sit in our clean houses, wearing clean clothes on clean bodies (at least relatively...I haven't showered yet today), it's hard to see that we're unclean, let alone filthy. But, our dirt usually resides far beneath the surface.

Maybe you're drenched in the shame of addiction, abuse or abortion. Caught in a quagmire of worthlessness, loneliness or despair. Muddling in bitterness, unforgiveness or anger. Drowning in self-sufficiency, pride or ego.Stuck in complacency, comfort or questions.

Look at the mud-covered runners in the pictures above. What covers you?

I need this snapshot right now. I need this mental picture of my own brokenness and sinful, but also of the hope of restoration. I'm not sure why I continually go back to the mucky morass from which I've been rescued and wallow around in it, but I do. I'm covered in it and I'm a mess. I feel like my son, realizing how desperately I need a shower.

How thankful I am that our God is alive and active in our lives. That He uses the mud in our lives to reveal His glory. And that He will "wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin...and I will be whiter than snow." (Psalm 51:2,7)

I wish I could say the same thing for my son's muddy clothes—washed four times and still far from clean!


Linda Marr said...

So great Kelli! We are down in the Bahamas on the Woodside mission trip ns BOY did we all want showers after a day of dirt digging! A jump in the ocean refreshed us all - a good reminder of God love and forgiveness washing over us and renewing our souls. A good sleep now and we'll b ready for day 2!

Dan said...

I also had a reaction to watching all these nutcases (son included) climbing cargo nets, rope-pulling themselves up a slcked-down ramp, scaling hay bales and GI-crawling through mud...insane jealosy. How cool to play like a kid again! Not sure what that says about me, my "spiritual mud" or whatever, but count on seeing me there next year. Who's with me?


Hi Kelli ~ Thanks for becoming a follower of my blog and for your sweet comment.

This is a great post. i liked thinking about mud being something good when we let Jesus touch it. Blindness gone . . .


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I gotta believe that just maybe when God began it all, there was a little mud created in the creating process. A good reminder that we are all dust without the cleansing breath and work of his hands.

Great teaching, friend. I've been rolling around in the mud lately, but not the good kind. The selfish "poor me", pit kind. How thankful I am for a God who is willing to reach down and get dirty for the sake of his kingdom.


PS: Keep me posted on the writing journey!

Julie Gillies said...

As I started reading, I couldn't fathom what on earth your post was covering, Kelly. It almost sounded like you were talking about some horrific third world country, especially with the men shouting "stay low!". I'm SO relieved it was for fun (well, supposedly...LOL)

WHAT an analogy! (And WHAT a photo of your boy! Wow!)

I'm so grateful for our creature comforts, but even more so for the cleansing blood of Jesus.

Hope you are well, my friend. Your sidebar is sure filling up with lots of publishing credits! Congrats!

Sue J. said...

Picking up on Elaine's thoughts, my study Bible suggests that, as in creation, Jesus may have fashioned new eyes to place into the blind man! Hadn't thought of that....

I was thinking this was a charity event, actually. That would bring some attention to how other parts of the world live.

Love the focus on our own lives, though. You're right--who stops to think about how mud-covered we are on a regular basis? And, sometimes, we're so covered that we can't see right, and don't know if it's possible to live any other way.

Praise God for His mercy! Your son's clothes may have to become his "uniform" for Merrell's next adventure. (Love their shoes, BTW. I can't part with them, although they have become strictly gardening shoes, now. C'mon, Merrell. Let's raise some money for Haiti or the Gulf region or somewhere.....)