WORDS FROM W.W. August 23, 2009
“Cleaning Off The Layers”

A few years ago I went on a road trip with my friend, Dave Volitis, to San Antonio. It was about a fifteen hour car ride through the heart of Texas. We took our Honda Accord that we had actually bought from the Volitis’s about a year before that. When we got back to Colorado Springs I noticed that I had brought a part of Texas home with me that I had not planned on.
Bugs!
Bugs layered on top of bugs! The grill on the front of the Accord was more crowded than teenage girls jammed against the platform of a concert of the Beetles (Another bug type!) back in the 60’s.
I commenced to washing. The interesting thing, however, was that the first time I washed it the latest arrivals of bugs to the grill got cleaned off, but the deeper “bugs” remained attached. They were shinier, but they were still “grilled”!
I had to wash the grill of the car several times to finally get back to the silver core. Texas bugs are tough…and plentiful!
I got back this afternoon from our church retreat that took place at a camp about 45 minutes outside of town. It was a quick 24 hours that included times of worship, personal time, reflection, fellowship, food, and a heart-quickening zip-line experience.
And I experienced some “cleaning off of some layers” to get back to the core.
Sometimes we add the crud of life to our “spiritual exterior” to the point that our personal experience with the Almighty deteriorates to “acquaintance status.” It’s not that I stopped knowing God. It’s that I had allowed layers of life’s stresses to create distance.
In our retreat I had a happy face on to begin with, but there was some cleaning off that needed to happen.
I could sense it. My resistance was there as well.
The and cleaning of my spirit went through a few more wash cycles. Interestingly enough getting back to the core was much more about observing others than a wet, soapy personal moment of “God-sponging” (Not a word, but I like it!).
The hidden emotions inside me started welling up as I watched people of my congregation going through four hands-on stations that dealt with repentance, cleansing, re-creation, and joy. I was over-whelmed at the pictures that were drawn and clay objects created, the thoughts of young and old alike.
Clean off more bugs! Deeper layers of bugs!
The thing is the deeper you get- or should I say the closer to the core you- the riskier it becomes.
The welling up in my soul continued as I watched a dear couple helping one of our elderly members get around the whole weekend. They got her to the campfire at the end of the evening. They made sure she was safe. They ministered to her in their servanthood and compassion…and in turn unbeknowingly were cleaning off another of my layers.
And then this same elderly woman put the finishing touches on the deepest layers when she sang “He Touched Me” at our closing worship gathering.
Sometimes it takes a lot of cleaning off to get us back to the relationship that God desires with us. Quite honestly, there’s still some bugs on the grill, but you can see patches of the silver shining through.
Pastors are too often viewed as spotless, where in reality we learn over time how to hide. We’ve seen too many examples of genuineness coming back to bite us. So we polish the outside to look nice and bright, but they can simply become nicely polished bugs.
Praise the Lord! Some of the silver is showing!

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