stains on my heart

Sitting down to wash my clothes after a long, tiring week ofhelping with the medical mission trip, I was trying to motivate myself for thework ahead. Instead of just throwing my clothes in the wash, selecting thecycle, and pressing start, I would have to dissolve laundry soap in water,scrub each piece of clothing individually, ring out the soapy water, rinse in adifferent bucket of clean water, ring out the water again, and hang them out onthe line. It wasn’t a task I was looking forward to, but one that needed to bedone.

So, I dumped the first load of clothes into the sudsybucket. To my dismay, the water almost immediately turned a grayish-brown. Aweek of working and sweating during the medical mission trip had made myclothes a dirty, smelly mess. Sighing, I knew I couldn’t wash my clothes in thealready dirtied water. I rinsed out each piece of clothing and refilled the bucketwith clean, soapy water.

Not wanting to scrub at the dirtiest shirts, I left them forlast with the same excuse used on food-covered pots—they needed to “soak.” But,eventually, the cleaner shirts were clean and all that was left was the whiteand black striped shirt I had worn riding in the back of the camioneta (truck) the week prior. It hadstarted to rain that day and water in the road had splashed red-brown spots ontothe shirt.

Grabbing the shirt from the soapy depths of the bucket, I used my knuckles to work at the stains. After the first scrub, nothing, no difference. Scrub, dunk, rinse, repeat. Second, third, fourth attempt, and still the stains didn’t want to leave. Maybe the spots were lighter but maybe that was my hopeful imagination. After dunking and scrubbing the shirt more times than I could count, I was losing my patience at the stubborn stains and contemplating just tossing the perfectly good shirt in the trash out of frustration.

While I slouched irritated and exhausted, I felt Abba, or God the Father. He sat calmly watching His child work through a problem. He steadied my hands and calmed my anger at the stupid shirt that didn’t want to get clean.

“You know,” He said, “like this shirt, you have stains onyour heart. Stains from the world and stains from sin.” His voice was a soft presence,more like knowledge pouring into my heart rather than spoken word. “I, too, sitat the wash-bucket patiently and lovingly scrubbing at your stains. And I nevergive up. The stains that never seem to want to leave just take a little moretime. I don’t get frustrated and those stains don’t make you trash.”

Recently my daily prayer sitting in our chapel had felt dry. Methods of prayer that had worked and brought joy in the past now felt empty, so I was surprised when I felt Abba’s presence while doing laundry.

“Your prayer and your life come in cycles, or seasons,” Hecontinued. “When I am working on a stain, it may be painful. Prayer might seemlike the source of your suffering, but you are only feeling my hands working onyour heart. When I dunk you under the soapy water, I may feel far away. You mayfeel abandoned, far from my presence. You may feel like you’re drowning in thetrials of everyday life. Yet, I am there. When I pull you out from the waterand rinse you clean, you feel my presence strongly. Prayer comes easy and thereis no doubt as to the good work I have done on your heart. Then, the cyclerepeats with the same stain or a new one.”

Grateful to hear His voice again, I allowed His words to flowover me and enter my heart. How much He loved me. How beautiful that He couldtake something so trivial and turn it into something meaningful. I can’t saythat my desire to procrastinate laundry went away, but Abba has given mesomething to hold on to and mull over. I pray it stirs something in you, too.

“Good people suffer many troubles but the LORD saves them from them all.”

psalm 34:16-19Logistical Happenings Update Below:

Alright, brief update, folks. Since my last blog post, our team went on a youth retreat in Tarapoto, welcomed two new families to Peru,and just finished up with a medical mission trip. As of next week, I will be travelingback to the States for a few days for the funeral of a family member. Pleasekeep my family in your prayers.

After I return, our community will have a retreat togetherin Moyobamba (about 3 hours from Pucacaca) and the women’s team will travel tolanguage school in Trujillo and Lima to finish up some paperwork. Blogs maycontinue to be irregular until we get into a more consistent routine. (Thanksfor bearing with me!)

Prayer Warriors,

Please continue to pray for our teams of missionaries herein Peru as well as all the people here in laselva (the jungle) as we continue to get accustomed to the language,culture, and discern ministries. Your prayers do not go unnoticed!

As always, feel free to reach out with special intentionsthat I can take to prayer. Until next time!

Your sister in Christ,

Rachel Sharn

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