Nasty Things

“It sounds like there are all kinds of nasty things going on inside of you!”

From her accustomed seat at the end of the sofa close to me, the Lovely Lady peered disgustedly over the tops of her magnifying lenses.

We were alone at last, but I could tell this was not one of those unforgettable romantic moments that seem to come along occasionally.  No, my silver tongue had not impressed the lady of the house at all.  In fact, it seemed that because of it, I was just as likely to be disposed of with the rest of the scraps left over from the wonderful Sunday dinner we had just enjoyed.

I have babbled on before about my enjoyment of the respite provided by Sundays–the enjoyment of time spent with others who believe as I do, with an hour or two spent in music, and in the Word, and in fellowship.  After that comes the Meal of the week, Sunday Dinner.  What can compare with friends and family–and grandchildren?  Noise and laughter, in tandem with food and good conversation–what could be better?

But grandchildren grow tired and their parents have trains to meet; friends have their own schedules to keep and Scrabble games to play.  Alas, all good things come to an end, and so it is with Sunday dinner.  The Lovely Lady and I have a tradition of chasing our guests out of the house without allowing them to help with the clean-up–our parting gift to them.  The practice also allows us the time to ease our way down from the mountain peak of commotion to a quiet plateau of teamwork, a pleasant place in which we reside most of the time.

We had finished our kitchen cleanup and our kingdom was once more in order–the puzzles picked up from the living room, the Star Wars costumes removed from the den to their storage bin, and the doll house closed up and pushed back against the wall to await the next visit.

She sat down to do a little needlework.  I just sat down.  I had no plans when I did it.  I certainly didn’t intend to embark on a private discussion with myself which would last for the rest of the day.  But, such is the result of making unthinking comments all too frequently, even when they are intended only to amuse.

” I wonder–should I sit here and take a nap, or should I go out and work off some calories with a long bicycle ride?”

I was half talking to myself, half hoping for some guidance.  But, as is common, the wise lady sitting nearby was having no part of the decision.

“That depends on what’s going inside of you today.”

She meant going on emotionally.  I knew she did.  I understand her pretty well.  But, I’ve always been a clown.  I almost couldn’t stop the words that her comment called forth.

“Well, inside of me, my heart is pumping blood into my veins, and my lungs are working to mix oxygen into said blood.  My stomach is at work on that delicious meal of ribs and baked beans, along with a little potato salad stuffed down into the cracks.  Right about now, it’s…”

She stopped me right there.  I guess she didn’t need the rest of the guided tour.  That’s when she made the statement I started with above.

“It sounds like there are all kinds of nasty things going on inside of you.”

I retorted, “No more than usual,”  and was silent.  I may even have dozed off for a few moments.

But, her comment really got my mind to working overtime.

If only she knew!  Nasty things.

Well.  Think of it.

You shake my hand and there is only the thin epidermis of skin between your own hand and the blood, the muscle, and the bone inside of mine.

You give me a quick hug and that same skin, along with a rib cage, are all that keep you from touching the organs and intestines–to say nothing of the material being moved along inside them.

Not a pretty picture, is it?

But, you know those are not the things my mind was working on, don’t you?  There are all kinds of nasty things at work inside.

If only she knew.

I shiver at the thought.  The anger I feel and surpress almost daily, the hatred of people and things I cannot abide.  There is the lust with which I wrestle nearly every day, and the pride which gets the better of me–also almost every day.

The list goes on without end.  Selfishness, gluttony, greed.  Lies and thievery.  Murder.  Well, not the physical act, but if wishing a person dead is the equivalent, that nastiness lives inside me, too.

If only she knew?  Ah, but she does.  She knows me.  She has seen all of those spill out, has lived with the evidence of those nasty things for the better part of forty years.

She knows me.  Still, she loves me.  Nasty things notwithstanding.

She loves me.

I am overwhelmed.

I said this wasn’t about romantic moments.  And, it’s really not.

I’m wondering if you recognize those nasty things, too.  I’m even curious to know if you have the same certainty that those nasty things are going on inside of you.

The Teacher wasn’t talking to the drunkards and the moral degenerates on that day.  The day He called His audience whitewashed tombs and hypocrites, He was talking to the religious men of the time.  He described them as beautiful on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones and impurity inside.

As I leaned back in my chair this afternoon and later, as I pedaled my bicycle all those miles, I couldn’t get that one phrase out of my head.

Whitewashed tomb.

Again and again, I returned to it.  There are nasty things going on inside of me.

But, I told you that there is a Lady at home who loves me.

Here’s something more important than that.

There is Someone else who loves me in spite of those nasty things.  He knows about them, without question. That same Teacher, the one who condemned those unrepentent religious men, paid the price for their impurities and dead men’s bones Himself.

And, here is the really overwhelming part.  His payment, His grace, is intended for every single one of us who has those nasty things inside.

Every one of us.  Me.  You.

He takes broken things and makes them whole again.

Not nasty.

Beautiful.

“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
(from Isaiah 61:3 ~ NIV)

“Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth.”
(Aesop ~ Ancient Greek fable writer ~ 620 BC-564 BC)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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