The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor...to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor...to grant to those who mourn in Zion--to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they might be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1-3 ESV)
I have a lot of clothes. I like shopping and finding great bargains, and clothes and shoes are some of my favorite things to bargain hunt for. While my budget often forces me to only buy the things I actually need or can use immediately, I sometimes find myself buying something that I will probably need some time in the future...like the sleeveless black dress that wasn't on sale but that I bought anyway last fall when I knew it would be this summer before I could actually wear it. I managed to wear it once before pregnancy made everything in my closet temporarily unwearable. Then there's the blue dress I bought on clearance for a Halloween costume that I justified because it would also be a great dress to wear to one of my brothers' weddings. Never mind that none of my brothers were even thinking about getting married at the time.
In addition to buying things I don't really need, I tend to hang on to clothes I don't really need. There's the floral print skirt that doesn't have a matching shirt (and that's a teensy bit too small), the red shirt with the too-tight sleeves that's way too dressy to wear anywhere I go, and a ton of dress shirts I rarely wear because I have others I like more. And then there's the fact that I'll only be able to wear any of these clothes again if I go back to my pre-pregnancy size after the baby is born....
Needless to say, my closet is rather full, and these days, I'm only wearing a very small percentage of the clothes hanging in it.
This past week at the women's Bible study I go to, we talked about closets and the clothes in them. All of us have those clothes that don't fit right, have stains or tears, or something else wrong with them, that we just can't get rid of. And in this case, we're not talking about our physical closets, but our spiritual closets.
When I look at Isaiah's list of garments in chapter 61, I realize that I don't always have those things hanging in my spiritual closet. Sometimes my beautiful headdress (called a crown of beauty in the NIV) is rather tarnished and my garment of praise looks more like a garment of grumbling. The oil of gladness tends to look more like the oil of worry (and is no doubt the cause of my regular pimple breakouts). In verse 10 of Isaiah 61 we also read of the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness, which are compared to the headdress a bridegroom would wear or the jewels of a bride. My jewels don't always sparkle as they should. And while God's gift of grace, Jesus' death and resurrection, and the work of the Holy Spirit in my life mean that salvation is mine, I often take that beautiful garment for granted. I often turn to the other clothes in my spiritual closet instead of the ones God would have me wear, so I hide these clothes that don't fit under a cloak of shame and guilt.
And even then, God comes and cleans me up. He washes me and makes me new and reclothes me in the beauty, praise, and gladness that He intends for me. He covers me with His garments of salvation and His robe of righteousness and calls me His own and gives me work to do...to bring good news to the hurting, comfort to the mourning, and to bring glory to Him. And as I walk with Him, He helps me clean out from my closet the things that shouldn't be there. It's a beautiful and overwhelming and amazing thing that He does!
Heavenly Father, I'm always amazed at the way you keep cleaning me up and giving me your clothes to wear even when I mess up what you have given me. Thank you for your patience, but mostly, thank you for your grace. In Jesus' name, Amen.