Guest Writer: Pastor Elias Asalef
C L E A N
Just that word alone conjures up many images of my childhood. Saturday mornings where we use to clean the house from top to bottom. As a kid, I was convinced every Saturday my loving parents were switched out with some clean-loving taskmasters who were secretly robots that had kidnapped my parents. Even on a non-Saturday, not being a very motivated student in high school, bad news would ideally always be broken to parents after a thorough cleaning of my room.
Another image of clean was growing up (sadly confessing this) in the era of the long white tees. Nothing said fresh to a kid when I was growing up like a fresh white tee, some blue jeans, your favorite sneakers and some jewelry around your neck. It was like our swag uniforms. I remember getting into debates with my parents because they wanted to buy me grey shirts because they were more easier to clean. I had penchant for getting food stains on my clothes. So getting me a white dress shirt, white tee or khakis was to flirt with danger. But I would work so hard to convince my parents I was worthy to dress in white because I wanted so desperately to get the expression of approval from my friends; the all to powerful expressions “fresh to death” or “looking clean”.
Young me was convinced the more white I wore, the more I looked clean. Unfortunately that never worked because as I learned, from my parents, its not enough to just look clean. Life changing moment! I was made aware that perception and reality have to be one and the same for my definition of clean to have any worth or value.
That’s why the lasting image of clean in my head will always be the verse above from Psalms. My dad would instruct us growing up to continually read the verse in our personal prayers. To the point it was included in all daily prayers that would begin and end my day from the time I was 12.
D I R T Y
I am a sinner.
No this is not a self-depricating moment to look pious, this is truth. Truth that I try tried to run away from.
Paul, I feel, took my personal reflections and inserted them in scripture every time I read 1 Timothy 1:15. “…sinners; of whom I am chief”. Weird thing to hear from a kid who has been raised in the house of God all his life. I was always treated like a child prodigy at church. Given then pulpit and the mic probably way before I had understood the words I was going to share. Was one of the youngest students in bible college. People marveled at me becoming a youth pastor at such a young age. It made me feel like I had my life figured out.
But beneath the squeaky clean image that surrounded me all my life there was a lot I kept hidden. Too afraid to even admit it to myself. Fears, doubts, questions, patterns of behavior left unchecked. Justifying my shortcomings as an excuse to abuse grace. I fancied myself like a young David but my life looked like Eliab. I focused so much energy at looking perfect, not realizing that the journey towards perfection cannot end with just looks. For a long time I felt the pressure of having to deal with the weight of sin in my heart and do everything I could to run away from it. In that process, I sadly ran away from the process of redemption that God has set into place to help me become the person I was meant to be. The view of myself suffered and in those moments I moved further and further away from building a relationship with God.
Isn’t that true of all of us?
And then from time to time something happens to make us pause our mad flight to look at the severity of our situation. At this point we look to God and wonder if perhaps He can step in and fix this. Is it possible? Does He love me enough to care? Is His love big enough to fix me?
That journey towards being made clean begins at the cross and ends at the return of out triumphant Savior.
I have to remind myself this truth everyday. As I receive His grace and mercy every morning, I am reminded that I will not be perfect on this side of glory. Perfection is nothing more than the pursuit of excellence. You will not be perfect until your King comes to call you home and gives you the new body. [Btw this does not mean we should not run after perfection.]
What I love about that verse in 1 Timothy is that it begins with glad tidings. There is a hope being renewed. The good news is that
There is so much I want to say to encourage every reader but I won’t hold you back from your day. However, as I conclude this blog I would like to remind you that there is a God who loves you and has died for you. He knows we cannot ever reach a place of cleanliness and perfection without Him and He sent Jesus to set an example to emulate and a sacrifice to make us clean.
You are nothing but a clean white canvas. Don’t let your fears, doubts, lack of worth, shame and guilt, past and futile human efforts towards perfection tint the canvas with spots. Let the masterful creator who has made you clean and beautiful also equip you to a life of clean living that brings about fruit. Let no one else tell you anything different than what he is trying to tell you right now. “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.” – John 15:3
My heart’s beating, beating inside my chest
Oh I’m coming alive with joy and destiny
Cause You’re restoring me piece by piece…
Washed in the blood of Your sacrifice
Your blood flowed red and made me white
My dirty rags are purified
I am clean
Lord, help us see ourselves the way you see us. For then, and only then, can we learn to love ourselves and the world around us in that perfect love you display. Teach us that despite our mistakes you have made us white as snow, to radiate and reflect your glory. Amen!
Pastor Elias Asalef