If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rolling in the Dirt

But now in Christ Jesus you . . . have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  (Ephesians 2:13)

For 12 years, Odie was our family dog. Well, more accurately, Odie was my wife’s dog. I tolerated him only because Nancy loved him.

It’s not that our mixed Pug/Chihuahua was a bad dog. It’s just that he had no sense of hygiene. We could bathe him every day, but as soon as we let him out of the house, he’d find a spot where another dog had done its – uh – business, and roll around in it.

The thought of petting Odie after he’d been outside made me shudder. And when I had to touch him to attach his leash, I kept my hand at arm’s length until I found soap and hot water.

Nancy told me I was being silly.  “He’s a dog,” she said. “That’s what dogs do.” Well, that might be what dogs do, but that doesn’t mean I have to touch him after he’s done it.

Frankly, I’m glad I’m not a dog, rolling around in other dogs’ business. But every now and then, when I act like the Pharisee in Luke 18, thanking God I’m not like people I know who roll around in all kinds of dirt, the Holy Spirit reminds me how often I sniff the bushes. For example, when I give safe-harbor to resentment, anger, jealousy, frustration – and then let them fester, I’m sure I give off a stench as high as heaven’s throne. When I grouse at God because He doesn’t answer my prayers for family, health, finances, and an variety of other things, the answer to which I consider evidence of His love for me, I’m wallowing in mud. And though I don’t like to admit it, I need a spiritual bath more often than I take one.

God does not only call us to be good. God calls us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15,16). And the difference between being good and being holy – as I see it, anyway – is like the difference between the sun’s brilliance at noon and the most distant star’s glimmer at night.

For as long as Odie lived with us, he never changed. He rolled in the dirt every time I let him outside. But everyone born into God’s family through faith in Christ’s death for our sins and His resurrection for our justification, everyone is called to be different. That is why when the bushes whisper their temptation, the Holy Spirit empowers us to stay away.

But – and this was the most exciting part – even when we get caught in the bushes and pollute our hearts, Jesus never holds us at arm’s length. The Savior always calls us back into the house, clutches our dirty souls close to Himself and with deep love, grace and mercy, cleanses us with His blood.

On that we can count. Of that we can be sure. Oh! What a Master He is. What a Friend. What a Savior.

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