Until we have been stripped, we cannot be fully clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ. Take it all away and see if we come out the other end grateful for the experience. See if the experience shows us how to clothe ourselves in the Lord and not the world. We start by seeing and wanting bright colors, excitement and entertainment. We wallow for a while in color and glamour of this world. We then have the opportunity to move into being stripped of color and become clothed in white, cleansed and pure.
Only through the experience have I been able to even begin to see the value of an experience of being stripped of everything. The real clincher is that it has taken a few rounds of devastation to be able to be more grateful for the experiences than anything. It no longer feels like a punishment, it now has been engraved on my heart and soul that this has been an experience filled with clothing me with the white pure righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Yesterday I read this one simple verse and have spent hours reflecting on it since.
“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” ~ Romans 13:14 NIV
Desires of the flesh
The world is filled with desires of the flesh. The list is endless and meaningless. It is empty, hollow and a vacuum that simply sucks life out of humanity. It does nothing to glorify God. I am only familiar with the concept because I have been there, done that, lost in it.
Numb enough to feel
When chronic illness, disease, trauma, abuse hit harder than any fist could mutilate my flesh, I finally became numb enough to intensely feel for the first time in my life.
That is when the desires of the flesh melted away more quickly than I could have imagined before. Nothing meant anything except my faith in a God who holds true – all the time, keeps his promises – all the time, loves me – all the time.
There is nothing of this flesh that can relieve the pain and suffering that some of us have gone through when we have been physically and emotionally crushed beyond recognition. There is no relief for the diseases and chronic illness that plague our bodies from the ongoing onslaught of stress that wracks our bodies.
When it has all been taken away, the desires of the flesh seem to go as well. Wow, what a great place to be.
All of the vices are gone. There are no more outlets for relief from the agony. It is time to feel everything and come out the other end glorifying God, through all of the suffering, feeling the intensity of it all. Through my life, and someday through my death, the end result remains true – when all is said and done, God is the only thing that matters, in any shape or form.
Layers of color are being stripped until nothing remains but the clean white purity we can only have in Jesus.
What does it really feel like to be stripped of everything important?
I personally feel like it has been pure misery AND the purest freedom at the same time. It has, at times, been so crushing that only death could bring relief. As I have walked through being stripped over and over, removing not only the physical health and the financial resources but the relationships that meant more than anything, I have grown.
Standing on my own, nothing to cover me up, nothing to cover past sins, nothing to falsely exalt me, just me and my relationship with the Lord means everything. The more that has been taken or lost, the more I crawl up in the lap of Jesus who means everything.
The value of home, a house, colorful garbs, meaningless relationships, false human interactions. Even the value of what anyone else thinks has been reduced to rubble. It is gone and I am beyond grateful. It is all meaningless color that covers the purity of who I was created to be in Christ.
No longer feels like loss, it feels like gain
Our lives are not a Hollywood movie, there are rarely fairytale endings with color and glamour. I love the idea that the older we get the more we realize all that we do not know or understand.
I know for an absolute fact that I do not know all the ways of God, do not know all of his thoughts or understand his plans for my life or others lives. But what I do know without any limits is that I trust him, have faith in his ways, thoughts, and plans for his kingdom, not mine.
“However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ the things God has prepared for those who love him…”~ 1 Corinthians (2:9 Isaiah) 64:4 NIV
I can safely say that my human mind could not even conceive of the suffering I have endured or seen and heard from others. The glory through that suffering has risen above and beyond the human comforts of color, lights, entertainment and excitement of this world.
As the “color” has been stripped, I know I can see the glory of God more clearly. Never completely can I understand the ways of God, but I sure have found a greater comfort in him and his ways as I have suffered.
God’s word goes on to tell us more of who he is through his Spirit…
“…these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for,
‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’
But we have the mind of Christ.” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:10-16 NIV
I cannot declare an ounce of understanding or knowledge about the foolish ways of this world and all of its color and glamour.
I am here to declare that only through the Word of God, the ultimate truth, that he tells me I am clean, washed in his blood, clothed in his white pure righteousness. Nothing else matters, nothing.
We are all given the same opportunity to be clothed in his white pure righteousness. Some are tested beyond our limits, to face the truth that lies in our hearts. We have to face it while standing alone, stripped of desires of the flesh. What a perfectly glorious place to be, glorifying God and not my own colors or flesh. And I can guarantee I will not be perfect at it while here on earth!!!!
May all of you be clothed in the clean white purity of Christ,
Maribeth Baxter, MBNC (Certified Mind-Body Nourishment Coach)