Makeup and Manure
It was a Sunday. She was slim, young, and moved with an easy assurance. The clothes, while not exactly immodest, were more of a surface layer than an actual covering, and like statistics gave glimpses that suggested more than they revealed, while hiding all the important bits. Her makeup was easily identified by the thick external coating on her cheek, her eyes enlarged with dark eye shadow to the point of competing with cartoon characters. The hair was a casual mess such as can only be achieved with hours of care. All the associated bling factors were in place. She breathed with a confidence that said “I know who I am, are you important?”
She was a virtual girl, at one and the same time leaving both nothing and everything to the imagination. She graced the church with her visiting presence; she said the words and sang the songs. She stood and sat at the right moments, not in deference to God, but as one lending her legitimacy to the process. She probably would not be back for many weeks, if at all.
She lived on the edge and looked into the centre of life with vacant eyes.
I watched her, as I have watched countless others like her. Men and woman of all ages. Not always easily identified, but all trying desperately to surround themselves with some or other strong shell that says “I am in charge”, and allows them to go through the motion of life while remaining untouched inside. The older ones do it with an acquired fluidity that they themselves probably no longer recognize, so tough is their shell. The younger ones still have cracks through which you can see, every now and then, the longing and loneliness. And many of the real people of Christ don’t even notice.
I said a few weeks ago that I had a passion; it’s a passion that wants to crack open these people’s armour like the shell on a crab, and say, “Expose yourself to God … He sees through you anyway even though you don’t know it.” And my passion is a source of great frustration. I want to shake these people by the shoulders, I want to give them a proverbial boot in the nether regions, and I want to commit them to a course in electro-shock therapy. But then I read Jesus, and listen to His heart, and know He’s feeling the same, but that His way is not my way. I read His words about the the Samaritan (Lk 10), the proud tax collector (Lk 18) who is so like many today who live on the edge, about the prodigal (Lk 15), that nothing can be hidden (Lk 12), and about adding manure (Lk 13). And when all is said and done, at the end of the day I remember the wrath of my King in Babylon (Esther 7). So I decide instead to be a digger of manure, a giver of manure, in the hope I can perhaps help some to keep from that day of sudden, involuntary, ignominious exposure. I find it is good for my soul, and I wonder how strong and obvious is my own shell?
Do you need some manure? Can you give someone manure? Or will it require a course in electro-shock therapy? Pray we don’t have to wait for the latter! As always, comments and questions to Mordecai the manure-giver.