When you were a kid, did you ever play in the mud? The moist, dirty soil after a rainstorm that filled your hands in a goopy mess? Did you make mud pies? Eat them? Did earthworms crawl out and make you squeal? What about letting your toes squish through the mess, brown oozing through the spaces between them and covering the soles of your feet, eventually caking to them and protecting the bottoms of them from the hot concrete below…
I didn’t. I hated mud. Hate may be a strong word, but it’s the only word appropriate to describe my disdain of the disgusting half-liquid, half-solid mess that threatened to stain my clothes and dirty my long, curly hair. I wasn’t interested. Thanks, but no thanks. Does it surprise anyone that I can’t stand the thought of a mud mask on my face to cleanse my skin? Probably not…
But I think that mud speaks an interesting reality to the murkiness of our lives. Soil, made up of things like broken rocks, decaying organic matter, and even living organisms allows for life to grow. When in its most solid of states, it firmly supports us, keeping us from sinking into the earth’s depths at first.
Yet, mud puddles catch us off-guard. They splatter up on the sides of our recently washed cars, cause us to slip-and-slide while walking across them, and even look unappealing.
Kind of like life.
Some days are clear and carefree, newness abounds and we feel our best at one hundred percent.
Other days, we’ve had a mild rainstorm and the ground is slippery at best, but we manage. Life continues as a status quo, our senses heightened and mind certainly working with more speed to stay on top of the trials, but we manage, safe and sound, with only a few splatters of mud to show for the battle.
But what about the puddles? The days pass, rain after rain, storm after storm, and suddenly we slip and fall, stuck in a rut, struggling to stand back up. The depths of the mud puddle run deep. We’ve all been there, though it may be challenging to admit. It’s that moment when your footing is unsure and you’re scared you may never get back out.
The moment that may feel hopeless.
Yet, there is good news. There is Gospel news! God never leaves us – God gets it. Jesus came to get it, to experience the lowest lows, the deepest temptations, and to understand us in ways that can’t be described. To die on a cross and rise again, promising wholeness and eternal life. The Holy Spirit is here. Present. Alive. Brimming with so much hope of what is in store for us, of what this mud puddle will someday be, of the growth of sunflowers or tomatoes; our gifts and skills being used to glorify God; our experiences allowing and facilitating the growth of the Kingdom.
How, though? How do we know? How do we hold on to that news? That promise?
Everyone’s relationship with God is different. Our conversations and prayers sound unique to us, our values and priorities, our closeness… What works for me may not work for you. In my world, God works through the people around me, holds me close through their love and encouragement, and allows the Spirit to flow through them to remind me that God is always there – in the mud puddle with me. With us.
My eyes are on the hills – where help comes. Where I am drug from the trudges of the goop surrounding me and reminded that I am chosen, beloved, and claimed by God.
We all are.
And we rejoice, even in the mud puddle, because just having someone – having the Savior we love standing in the murky mud with us makes everything more bearable.
It means we will see growth.
It means we are saved. We are made new.
That is worth rejoicing about!