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!