Text: Matthew 5:8, Ezekiel 36:22-28, Psalm 24:1-10, Revelation 22:1-5
The doctor’s office wasn’t on my list of must-see destinations in Italy, but it’s the one I got to check off the list just 72 hours into my semester abroad.
I’d intentionally chosen a program without any familiar faces—just me and the open road! Instead, it was just me… and the scratching. And the hives.
The minute the itchiness ensued, I immediately began washing all my clothes and sheets, then used every last drop of my brand-new bottle of soap in the shower. But it got worse, sending me to the farmacia, which was closed, followed by the doctor’s office, all the while accompanied by a translator who did not know the word for “hives.”
This isn’t the first time I’d taken matters into my own hands, working to scrub away my flaws for a pristine exterior. Just today, I’ve held doors, given compliments, and tweeted Scripture—which are all good things, but my motives are off. And do you know what I see when I do these things? Nothing. I’m hiding so well that I don’t see a thing—not myself, and definitely not God.
Sitting in the doctor’s office chair, I listened to the translator and the doctor intensely converse, unable to decipher what they were saying. Then, the translator turned to me, diagnosing an allergic reaction to an ingredient specific to Italian soap and detergent.
What I’d been using to hide and treat my condition was actually the root of my problem. My attempts to outwardly correct my inward shame had only exposed it more.
When I read, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8), I’m sent scrambling, trying to scrub my heart of its impurities. Reading that verse makes me want to work harder and look better. But in reality, I start to hide more, feel less, and then wonder why I can’t see God in the midst of my shame.
I want to see Him. I want to see Him so badly that I’ve shamed my sinful heart into hiding. But Praise the Lord, He is not hiding from us, and nothing is hidden from Him. God sees us and knows us long before we could ever think to seek Him. He saw us first.
For “Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). He sees us when we are impressive, as well as indecent. He knows our hiding places and wants to give us a better one (Psalm 32:7).
While we are busy trying to correct our outward behavior and conceal our inward brokenness, we miss the work God is already doing:
“For I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”