As I stood there ironing clothes this morning a nasty stench came over me. I know that odor. It’s familiar to me. It was the dog walking by. Oh my goodness, he is in desperate need of a bath, I thought to myself. I considered having the kids bathe him after school, but they don’t do the best job. So, I decided a bath would be on the top of my list for today. When I returned home from dropping the kids at school, I began to run the water for a bath. Ollie, the smelly dog, jumped right in. There was no hesitation. I wonder if he could smell himself too. I wonder if he was longing for someone to give him a bath. He probably noticed we don’t pet him much when he stinks. We don’t want him on the furniture and we certainly don’t want him near us because even when he leaves, that nasty scent remains. Poor Ollie! He can’t get rid of that smell himself, he has to wait for his owner to cleanse and refresh him.
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately examining my heart. I’ve been praying and confessing a lot. I admit, it’s been a long time since I took a good look at my heart. I haven’t cleaned it out in a while and boy did things back up. I found things I hadn’t even realized were in there. There were piles of unforgiveness which had started to turn to bitterness. There were hurt feelings that had turned into grudges. There were heaps of pride that were oozing at the seams. Yep, it was all in there and what I realized is that it was starting to stink.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV)
I have prayed these words on many occasions. The problem is, it’s been way to long since I’ve prayed them. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians that we are the “aroma of Christ” (vs. 15). I wonder if we become a stench in the nostrils of God when we aren’t practicing confession. I wonder if sitting before God laying out my requests He thought to Himself, what is that stink? I wonder if God didn’t want me near Him because my corrupt heart was causing my prayers to leave a nasty odor.
God is Love. That’s how He describes Himself. He doesn’t ever push me away because of my sin. Instead, He waits patiently for me to invite Him in to do some spring cleaning. He lovingly convicts until I hear His voice and confess. He longs for me to lay my heart out before Him so He can heal the damage I have allowed to take place. God longs for us to be honest with Him and honest with ourselves. He wants for us to be courageous enough to ask Him to search us. That’s a hard thing to do. It’s easy to put on a happy face and pretend all is well. It’s more humbling to come to Him, expose our hearts and be willing to allow Him to work. He is the only One who can truly cleanse us from our sins. We can’t do it for ourselves.
My dog Ollie doesn’t necessarily like baths. But after his bath, he runs around like a crazy dog. He jumps and runs for a solid five minutes after being cleansed. I’d like to think it’s because he’s feeling good after his bath. In reality, he’s probably trying to dry himself off better. For me, when God cleanses my heart, I feel like jumping. Such a weight is lifted. There is such freedom knowing I don’t have to carry all of those things that have been weighing me down. It’s a feeling of comfort to know that even though I have messed up, my Father in heaven still loves me. I’m joyful. I’m relieved. I’m at peace.