Last year was a year of extremes. We endured a very wet spring, and then a very dry fall. This was written during the first of planting season and I wished to share it as an example.
From Miry Clay to Solid Rock
We are now entering the third week of June, and fast approaching summer, yet all we have experienced so far weather wise are days of continual downpours. It is very discouraging if you are a gardener. I tried to plant some peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli a couple of weeks ago, and you couldnít even enter the garden without rubber boots on. I share a plot of ground with my parents for a garden. My dad is 71, but still does most of the work. He doesnít trust anyone else to do it properly, but just for the sake of trying to make me feel good, (or maybe bad) he allowed me to accompany him to the garden to plant my veggies.
I showed up in tennis shoes, and he took one look at my feet and laughed. Growing up being the brunt of his jokes regarding the size of my feet, (and ears, nose, etc., etc.) I didnít pay him a whole lot of attention. Just figured he was getting ready to regale all with another amusing anecdote about the size of my feet. However, that wasnít his intention (or entirely his intention). He harrumphed in his throat as only a 71 year old father can do, went to the garage and came back with a pair of big rubber boots and threw them at my feet. I got the hint. Putting them on with my jean shorts and tank top (I was a pretty sight), I clomped out beside him towards the garden. (He may joke about the size of my feet, but his were still bigger, and it was a little difficult to walk.)
Anyhow, as I have previously said, it has been a wet spring. We got to the garden and began setting out some tomato plants together. As soon as I stepped into the garden, the soil sucked up over the top of my (his) boots. I was okay until I had to move to set out the next plant. Trying to lift one foot at a time, to free myself from the suction of that mud, and move on to the next hole he had dug for the second plant, proved to be quite the adventure. Dad muttered under His breath to lift your heel first, then your toe, if you wanted to be able to move from that spot. I could see him watching me from the corner of my eye, and I tried to act nonchalant about the whole process, as if I knew exactly what I was doing. I am only between the first and second hole he has provided and he is halfway down the row. I finally manage to free myself from the area in which I am standing and move on to the next plant to be put into the soil. He harrumphed under his breath again, but says nothing.
Thinking I have now mastered the battle of the mud, since I have succeeded once, I confidently move a little faster the next time, sure that he is now impressed. (Bad idea) It is difficult enough to escape the confines of the mud when you have boots on that fit, it is near impossible when they are about 3 sizes too big. Instead of taking the advice he had muttered about lifting your heel first, then your toe, I got in a hurry and just pulled my foot out all at once (or attempted to). The next thing I knew, the boot was in the garden, and I was on my butt in the mud, one white-socked bootless foot waving high in the air. I could not help it. I collapsed in laughter. It was funny. Dad takes one look, shakes his head, and mutters "told ya, heel first, then the toe." That was the end of me actually setting the plants out. After that, I was regulated to handing them to him from the solid ground surrounding the plot. Sigh. Once again, I failed his gardening test. I have taken it now for about 31 years running, and have yet to pass.
Psalm 40:2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
Just like the miry clay of that garden, that had me trapped, unable to move, so also are our sins. The world and its hold on us is the clay. Now what do we deserve for that clay? For not being wise, and listening to the Father, and allowing ourselves to be trapped in that position, we deserve Judgement. Just as my dad was watching me, to see how I was going to free myself from that trap I had put myself in, so also the Father watches us. But, just like my father who explained to me the way to free myself, the Heavenly Father also offers us a way to be free from the miry clay of our sins. When I listened to my dad, I was doing ok. It was not easy to move in that mud, but I could do it. It was a struggle, but I kept going. However, when I got hasty, and overconfident in my own abilities, I fell flat on my butt in the mud. That is also what happens when we take our eyes off the Heavenly Father.
The freedom provided for our sins, and the way to be lifted out of that miry clay is Jesus Christ. Jesus was sent by the Father to save us and set our feet upon the rock. He was willing to leave the glory of heaven to come to this earth to pull us up out of the suction of our sins. Pulling us out of the clay defined mercy. We deserved judgement , we received mercy.
John 13:1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end. (vs. 3) Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; (4) He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments, and took a towel, and girded himself. (5) After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciplesí feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.
The imagery in these verses compares to one that travels from the public bathing houses to their homes. Although the body is cleansed from the recent washing, the trip back and forth caused oneís feet to become covered once again in the dust, and dirt.
Jesus, in these verses, is showing His disciples that they will require a daily cleansing from their sins brought to the Father in confession, so that he may abide in unbroken fellowship with the Father and with the Son. The blood of Christ answers forever to all the law could say as to the believerís guilt, but one needs constant cleansing from the defilement of sin. In other words, Jesusí blood washes the sinner clean of past guiltís once and for all, but we still need to bathe in His word, and confess the dust and dirt that we accumulate in our daily walks in the world.
When Jesus approached Peter to wash his feet, Peter questioned the Lord as to why He was doing it. Jesus replied to Peter that although he did not understand now, he would know hereafter. Peter then adamantly tells Jesus that He would never wash his feet. Jesus replies, If I wash you not, you have no part of me. Simon Peter then answers the Lord, not my feet alone, then, but also my hands and head. We should all respond like Peter, desiring to be completely cleansed. Jesus goes on to explain to the disciples that who are washed need not except to wash their feet, for the rest of you are entirely clean, and are clean, all but one. He was referring of course to Judas Iscariot, who had been tempted of the devil to betray Him.
This was the definition of mercy that we are given in the fact that Jesus would place himself in the position of the servant.
John 13: 12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was seated again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? (13) Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am. (14) If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one anotherís feet. (15) For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. (16) Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. (17) If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
Jesus takes on the role of a servant for his disciples to make the point that if He, being their Lord and Master was willing to humble himself out of love to perform what was known as one of the lowliest of duties, how much less are we to do for others? To keep ourselves in that humble position of knowing that we are not greater than Him, just as He was not greater than the one that sent Him, meaning God. Knowing these things, reaching out to others in love, and serving them, being a disciple of Christ, and remembering that we are not greater or more important than the one that we are doing it for. The Savior of the world washed His disciplesí feet to prove to them that not only would He wash their bodies free of sin completely by dying on the cross, but if they came to Him daily, He would keep them clean from the sin of the world that might accumulate as they walked daily spreading His word.
Pulling us out of the miry clay, and cleansing our feet defined Mercy. Dying for us on the cross so that we may be totally cleansed and be a child of His defines Grace.
The Solid Rock
Now if Jesus has given you this gift of grace, He will also provide for you the solid rock that is needed for you to stand upon. He would not pull you up out of the miry clay, and set you back down on a piece of ground that was unstable. The solid rock is His word. To keep ourselves on firm ground, we must study daily and learn Godís word to keep focused and standing firm. We need to stand firm in the face of adversity and claim all the promises that God has given us. We have been given authority in Jesus to stand against the devil, and to make him flee in Jesusí name. By Jesus conquering death, hell and the grave, He defeated Satan, and we also are able to defeat him on a daily basis, by being in Christ. Having his authority, and standing firm against all the attacks that the devil might try to throw at us, we will be victorious as well.
Luke 9:1-2 (1) Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. (2) And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
Mark 16: 17 And these signs shall follow those who believe: In my name, shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; (18) they shall take up serpent; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
These things were just not promised to the disciples that followed Jesus then, we are given the same authority today. Godís word never ends. Never expires. It is forever lasting.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.
1 Peter 3:22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
Christ suffered on the cross for our sins, to give us freedom from the hold of the devil. The only way to have that freedom is to die to the flesh. When we die to the flesh, we are made alive in the Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, we are given authority over the devil. He can not prevail against us, if we are children of God. We have the authority in Jesusí name to rebuke him, and he must flee. He no longer has any hold over us, if we claim Jesus name and His authority in our lives.
If you are encased in Miry Clay, I urge you to remember the Solid Rock. Let the Lord Jesus pull you up and out of the sin that you are floundering in, and stand on solid ground.
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Simply wonderful, great story about your dad and a great encouragement...thanks! - Jay Cookingham