Our cat is not good at grooming herself, so I periodically comb knots out of her fur. As I comb, I find more clumps hidden underneath. Sometimes, when I pull the clumps out, she cries and nips me.
It was hard for me to start this article, not because I had no ideas but because I had too many. When I get an idea, I jot it on paper and add it to my confetti pile. There are so many topics, it becomes overwhelming and I freeze.
Life is like the cat's backside: there are hidden knots that need to be removed. If we don't take care of them, they won't disappear - they'll get harder and more painful to dislodge.
The confetti pile illustrates one truth about the bible: it addresses countless issues in our life and in the world. There simply is no other book that speaks to every vital issue of life. "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" (2 Peter 1:3, 4). God's promises pertain not only to this life but prepare for the life to come. God's goal is not to make us happy happy happy now but to purify us for his coming kingdom.
For the cat to have clean, uncorrupted fur, I have to extract the knots. Some are embedded so deeply it hurts to remove them. Without intervention, she would never be pure and clean; her own efforts are too feeble to purify herself.
God reminds us our efforts to cleanse our sins are too feeble: "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). Only the blood of Christ makes us acceptable to God. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Once we ask the Lord to forgive and cleanse us, knots of troubles and clumps of sin still surface. Our Heavenly Father begins the process of combing our lives through the discipline of trials, often painful. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:11). We can endure the pain that makes us cry out and nip at God when we realize it is the hand of a loving Father grooming our spirits for eternal joy.
We might object that Jesus has no idea what we're going through. It's easy for him to sprinkle pious platitudes that sound like wishful thinking. Yet, the Son of God "learned obedience by the things he suffered" (Hebrews 5:8). "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:15, 16).
Because Jesus endured the trials we have and victoriously passed through them, we can trust him to empower us to endure and be purified by them.
When we present our life topics to God, he doesn't get overwhelmed and freeze. He knows exactly what we need when we need it, and acts in love and wisdom with a passion for purity, not out of a penchant for punishment.
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