African Walking Sticks, TSA, and Dirty Underwear; From Rags to Riches

Recently, we had the privilege to meet up with some of our closest friends from KY.  They were here in the Horn to bring 3 beautiful sisters into their family.  We were so blessed to get to spend some time with them, and getting to know their girls before they headed back to the States.  We deeply cherish their friendship and are always encouraged by each other.  And we are so like-minded.  Dirty minds think alike….

A mutual friend of ours from our home body asked us to pick up some walking sticks to send back with our friends.  These gifts were quite long and awkward shapen, so we had to get creative on how we were going to package them.  Driving by a furniture store on our way to say good bye to our friends (still unsure how we were going to pack these gifts), we noticed a broken down box, about 3 feet tall.  So we stopped and the man working at the store kindly let us take the box.  When we got to their guest house, clothes and items were flying everywhere in a last minute effort to pack (well…not quite last minute, but definitely last hour…).  Their 3 girls were serenading us with “mezmor” or “church songs” as we taped the dilapidated box back together and gently placed the purchased items inside.

Wanting to make sure they did not get damaged, we had to get creative with how we were going to cushion the sticks (unfortunately you cannot find bubble wrap in the post offices here:(  Alan suggested some of their clothes.  Even better, our friend DA decided we should stick it to TSA, and pack them in dirty clothes.  And to top it off, dirty underwear (we let him do that part of the packing).  I suggested that he put the underwear back on and leave something extra, but even he wouldn’t stoop that low…that is unless he already had left something there (I love you DA:)  Alan and I finished up the job by using nearly a whole roll of packing tape to secure the box.

As ridiculous as it may seem, when I recount this story, I can’t help but think about a verse from Isaiah that says:

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

TSA fell for it.  Sure enough, they broke into the box.  I can imagine the poor soul who not only had to cut through all that tape and work to tape it all back up, but had to sift through a weeks worth of dirty underwear and clothes.  I can imagine him picking through each piece of clothing with his tight latex gloves on, holding them at an arm length’s distance, and thinking about what kind of sick freak would use dirty underwear, of all things, to package these beautiful gifts in.

How true this is for us.  Our righteous deeds are just as disgusting to the Father as dirty underwear.  He sees through every “good” deed to our hearts and knows our motivations.  When we are motivated by selfish ambitions, presuming ourselves to be righteous and holy because of our “good” works, He will hold us at a distance, like poop stained underwear (not saying yours were poop-stained DA:).

1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

But that is not the end of it.  Verse 9 goes on to tell us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

My best was like dirty garments, but now He has washed me and given me clean garments.  Now I can please the Father because He has redeemed me, because He now lives in me.

Please lift up the people we are working with here in the Horn, who are so completely consumed with their “righteous” good works; that they might truly know Him, hoping in His works rather than their own.

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

-1 John 3:2-3