Updated: Feb 28, 2021
There she sat. In a paper robe. Wanting to be healed.
Her hands constantly moving to pull, tuck, and press the paper tight, so as little skin would show. She wrapped one arm around her waist and another over her chest like she was guarding everything underneath—the secrets, the shame, the disease, the stories, the hurt, the broken parts, the busted-up heart.
From the outside looking in, with the naked eye and boxed-in brain, she probably looked like a lot of things: poor, uneducated, uncultured. Used up and put down.
Her worn out jacket smelled like Cigarette smoke and it settled there in the floor and into the room, under the door, and lingered in my lap as I sat in the hall looking over her labs.
She was 10 feet away, behind closed doors, but I breathed her in. And accidentally judged before I was even aware of what I’d done.
God urges us to live right-side up in this cold-hearted upside-down kingdom. So, I prayed for new eyes to look past skin and bones. I prayed that He would help me see her just as He sees her. I followed the smoke smell into her room. Jesus led the way.
And I looked at her from the inside out.
A different vantage point can make all the difference.
I saw girl with a tender spirit and a heart to do good. I saw a fierce fighter—someone who keeps getting up despite life kicking her back down. I saw a flicker of hope despite all the hopelessness around her.
What a beauty she was.
I offered her what medicine couldn’t heal: a safe space, a listening ear, encouraging words, and an invitation to grace.
And when she said God couldn’t love her and the church wouldn’t accept her and how her life was too dirty. Too “effed up” to clean up, I told her all I know about dirt and Jesus.
And the dirty theology is this: God has always used dirt to bring life–healing and redemption and hope.
After all, the whole story begins and ends with dirt. The very hands as God reached down, took the dust and dirt from the ground and breathed life into creation. We are literally made from the messy muck–So God is not afraid of a little dirt. He uses it for glory instead.
Maybe she had never heard the story of Jesus taking dirt and his own spit and making mud. Placing it over the eyes of the blind man. And he was healed. Or the scandalous stories of society’s rejects– a lying prostitute named Rahab, an adulterous-murdering king named David, his thieving disciple Matthew, and the checkered past of Mary Magdalene.
If upon looking at someone and simply thinking God could not, would not, should not ever use them…..think again.
No matter who we are or what we’ve done or where we’ve been, God could not love us more. We are just as likely to find Him in the streets and the trailer parks and under bridges and in the jails and homeless shelters as we are in a sanctuary. And there is nothing too “effed up” to clean up from his vantage point. Nothing too dirty that He can’t make enough.
This is a tender season we are in—holidays can be hard. Money gets tight. Regret seems to get bigger. Hope seems to get smaller. Sometimes people just need to hear that it’s all gonna be ok. Sometimes people just need to be heard and loved. Despite demographics or logistics…despite cigarette smoke and past mistakes….Sometimes people just need to be looked at for what they are—a beautiful, loved, child of the King.
There she sat. In her paper robe. Wanting to be healed.
So, I introduced her to The Great Physician.
That paper robe is now a holy robe. And dirty is now clean.