Tuesday, December 13, 2016

You're Dirt and That's Okay

Dirt doesn't do much, nor is it appealing. It doesn't taste good. It isn't much to look at. Most people can't wash it off their hands and clothes fast enough. Dirt totally lacks potential to be anything. Because. It's. Dirt. However, dirt has the opportunity to play a part in something great. Under the right conditions, when roots take hold, dirt can play a part in providing encouragement, nourishment, comfort, shelter, and beauty. You're just like me - dirt.

First of all, we should feel right at home being in dirt because quite literally, we're made out of it. In Genesis 2:7, the Bible teaches us that "...the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." Remember, dirt is dirt: don't think you're better than any person, we're all made of dust and dust is where we'll return when we die (Genesis 3:19). Another thing, just like dirt, we can't do anything on our own. The very breath in our lungs and our heart beat is managed by the Lord. If you are able to read this, drink water, move your leg, or think, then thank God for such. Without the Lord, dirt doesn't do anything and neither do we.

It's interesting that even though dirt lacks potential, it's able to glorify God. I live in the mountains and this season is yielding incredible panoramic views of flaming red, soft yellow, and cool green leaves. On a family stroll, we see majestic Maple and Sequoia, astonishingly large squirrels diving in their holes, and deer strolling in the shade of the brush. In reference to the second Adam, Psalm 96:12 says, "Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy." The Lord uses dirt to host these crops, forests, Maples, fat squirrels, and deer. The dirt is just dirt, but it gets to be a part of some incredible things. Like dirt, we're unremarkable on our own, but when the Lord uses us, there's no limit to the glory we can bring Him. A young shepard defeated a giant warrior with a stone, a preacher ignited an international revival, a wild desert man baptized Jesus Christ. It's easy to say I'm no one and can't do anything, but when we feed the homeless, share the gospel with children, check in on the widowed, serve those who can offer us no benefit, our puny dirt selves are glorifying the King of Kings (Matthew 25:34-36).

But what about dirt incapable of yield? If you're in California, with its years-long drought, I'm sure you regularly see patches of dry, cracked, and barren earth.  When my kids and I first started playing in the side yard, the dirt was hard and parched. You could literally dribble a basketball off it. The dirt was so compacted, it gave us bruises when we fell on it. I remember looking at that dirt and thinking it would be impossible for anything to grow here. It's just too compacted. It's just too rocky. It's just too dry. It's just too hostile. Too often, we give up on people for these same reasons. We write others off when they seem too difficult, broken, uninteresting, annoying, etc. I've been all these things, and I can't imagine how differently I would have handled life if every person who came across me decided I was a plot of useless dirt and just walked on by.

I breast fed for over three and a half years with no more than one two month break. That means I haven't slept more than three hours straight for almost four years. Needless to say, I was very much out of it. My sanity, my health, my looks were unrecognizable. I didn't have the energy to do things like write, shower, work out, smile, hold a conversation, or retain information. When it comes to dirt, I was what you would consider to be "barren." In those past few years, I saw some family and friends become uninterested, disenchanted with me. My fruit, my shade, my yield, my ministry shriveled up and I had nothing to offer because I was just trying to make it without hurting my husband and kids. Some of my relationships got worse when I stopped going to church for two years. Once, I happily approached a friend I at one time served alongside with in ministry. She interrupted my hello with asking where I'm currently going to church. I told her no where right now. Without bothering to ask if I'm in fellowship (Hebrews 10:25), she told me I need to go to [a] church [building] before literally turning her back and initiating a conversation with someone else. I saw some other Christians turn their back on me as well but in a figurative way like ignoring my happy birthday texts, suddenly ceasing their once ubiquitous invites as soon as I went on church - but not God - hiatus, ignoring me in person, etc.

On the other side, some people stubbornly stuck with me. They watered, aerated, and mixed good soil right in. They prayed for me and attempted to continue the same relationship we shared before I shriveled up. They came with love, patience, and understanding. Some were Christians but most were not. I remember telling Aaron back then that I feel safer with more unbelievers than believers. Gandhi said all of India would be Christian if every one of Christ's followers actually acted like Him. I don't doubt it. I want to ask you a question; is it Christ-like when the hopeful give up on the hopeless?

Let us remember, like dirt, people can appear to be hopeless with no chance of yield, but as long as we're on earth, there is still hope.
This is not a Christian vs. Christian or believer vs. unbeliever thing, it's a people vs. hell thing. If you're a Christian and you're unsure of your calling, you've been searching for your vocation, and/or trying to figure out your ministry, I'll tell you right now what it is...OUR MINISTRY IS PEOPLE. Every. Single. Person. No matter how dry and hostile and hopeless that plot of dirt appears, we need to keep right on digging, watering, aerating, mixing good compost right in. Never give up on anyone. We must love everyone. Paul writes that "If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important." Galatians 6:3 (NLT)

When my boys were gifted with toy shovels, I grabbed a trowel and began digging in the dry and empty plot of dirt with them. A routine was birthed and we dug in the earth every time we played outside. I mixed ash from the fireplace and natural compost from the layers of dead leaves right in. Our regular digging aerated the dirt and we tossed large rocks off to the side. The dirt became easier to dig in everyday and soon, we started discovering worms along with nuts and pine cones (brought in by squirrels). The dirt now gives off a rich, earthy scent and is dusted with tiny green sprouts. A little bit of TLC was all it took for this once dry and barren plot to become ready to help support life.

Just like ministry, readying dirt is tough, filthy, exhausting, yet also fun and productive. I no longer look at this patch of dirt as hostile and hopeless. You can clearly see the life that's blossoming in this once empty plot. Soon, fruit trees will give food, shade, shelter, and clean air right here. We must never look at any person and decide they're a lost case. Remember, God alone, puts life in the seeds. Dirt doesn't give life, but like us, dirt can be a part of the Lord's process in giving life.

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