I remember so clearly the feeling, the pain from the blisters on my hands by my thumbs. Recently, while I was working one day, I recalled a season in my life where lack was a continual part of our every day; literally, lack, I cannot even emphasize this word enough. Lack in material but not in Christ. We ate peanut butter on bread and I washed clothes in a bathtub. “Mommy, that looks fun, can I stir the clothes with the broom handle”. My daughter, so young and innocent, unaware of our circumstances. She amazed me yet humbled me. We were going through hardship and a wilderness that touched and changed me about frugal living. Simple living. Most importantly, the stretching of faith.
AnnaLee from time to time will still bring this up in conversation. She has said before, “Remember that time when I would help you stir the clothing in the bathtub with a broomstick.” It has in turn given me opportunity to share with her that was us washing clothing, and God really growing our faith in a hard time of our life (she was too young to remember anything else).
As I leaned over the bath tub and continually scrubbed, soaked, stirred and washed the clothes the best I could, I had a sour attitude. I was bitter and hurting inside. I imagine I thought often of the many people likely getting to walk down to the laundry room and put their quarters in the machine, relax and simply wait for their clothes to be done washing and drying. Then there was me, I washed, I scrubbed, I stirred, I wrung out so many clothes so many times that I developed painful blisters on my hands. I didn’t have anywhere to hang the clothing to dry so I took our vacuum cord from a vacuum borrowed from a friend and strung it across our self made kitchen and hung the clothing over that one single vacuum cord, hoping that the humidity would die down enough to allow them to dry.
While I reminisced on this memory from 5 years ago, it amazed but humbled me to see where God has brought us from. The sanctification He has done in our hearts to make us more like Him. It reminds me of that song “Lord you’ve brought us from a mighty long way, a mighty long stay, in the wilderness… Ooh Lord you’ve brought us through the thick and thin… you’ve brought us out to bring us in….” I love that song. It resembles the Christ in me and my children and all the goodness He has brought us even in the times when I was on my knees late at night, tears streaming down my cheeks, scrubbing clothing in a bathtub of hot water, tired and in pain. Not only physically but in my heart also.So that day I was working, thinking back, the Holy Spirit showed me – how much more does the Lord want to “clean” us in this sanctification process. I thought about that painful time in my life and how much God used it to cleanse me of bitterness and comparison or not being content where He has us. The Holy Spirit reminded me the literal task that I had at hand of “cleaning clothes”, corelates to the working of Christ in our sanctification process through us as believers. “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21.
When we repent of sins, our Merciful God, cleanses by the Blood of the Lamb, just like the clothes are submerged in the deep, hot bath water we are submerged in the Blood and washed white as snow. He then takes us and continues to work on us regularly as we submit to His working; there’s a key word there, submit. We must be willing and open to allowing the Lord to work on us so that He can work through us. Cleaning out the debris and the dark things deep within our heart just as David expresses in Psalm 51. “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (51:7)
During our life long process of sanctification, He uses the Holy Spirit to wring us out, just as the clothes are wrung out and get that “clean water” drip from us; a testimony of His Grace that carries us through to be more like Him than the day before – to be a testimony of His Work in and through us. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16. Then He hangs us to dry “tests our faith in the waiting and the process”.
He then starts the cycle of sanctifying all over again, day after day, as we continue to submit ourselves to Him, just like when the clothing is dirty and ready to be cleansed again. Which we all know laundry is a never ending task… as is sanctification in the believers life until we go home to glory, then everyone can shout hallelujah because there is no laundry to be done in heaven!
Those blisters represent something more than just tired hands from a mother’s hard work. The blisters represent more than poverty. They represent a stretching of faith in a time that I wouldn’t have learned God’s faithfulness any other way. The blistering represents the goodness of God even when we don’t feel Him near or working in our lives. It represents that even in the little we have, we have more than we can ask for because we have Him. The blistering represents the true depth of that statement “I have enough, because I have you Lord.”
We live not for us, but for Him and oh how grateful I am that the Father loves us enough to sanctify us – that we would reflect His Son more and more each day! “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
Thank the Lord today for taking that extra mile of growth in your life, no matter how painful it is. He loves you enough to stretch you. Even when things feel really uncomfortable, insurmountable to face, praise Him anyway and embrace that sanctification process as He grows you to be more and more like Him daily. That ‘wringing out’ can be really painful, but oh How pleasant it is, when we endure – the fruit that comes from such growth.