“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.”
Psalm 40:1-2, New Living Translation
I just call this one The Story, and it's drawn very much from my own experience, but I think it applies across to many people and situations. The writing style also reminds me a little of Dr Seuss, for a bit of fun.
The Mud that I refer to in The Story, in some senses, is just sin in general. For me, though, it has a more specific meaning. Because it's particularly referring to my struggles with porn, fantasy, and lust. These are things that I have struggled with for a very long time; and while I can't pretend to say that I'm completely free of them, I'm doing much better than I once was.
And there's been a lot of reasons for that, but I think the turning point for me was Valiant Man. It was a group run by Troy, the pastor at Campbelltown Church Of Christ, that talked honestly about these sorts of issues. And it was the first time that I'd ever been able to talk about it in a group setting like that. And it was the first time I realised that this wasn't just a 'me' thing. Because one of the biggest lies that you can believe with this sort of sin - and many others as well - is that you're alone in it, and no-one else could understand. That they'd condemn or spurn you. But that's just not true, and something I've seen disproven time and time again. Whatever you are going through, you are not alone.
Come in, I’ll tell you a story; sit down!
For this is going to take a while.
I’m sorry if it’s sad from time to time,
But hopefully it will end with a smile.
For there was this man, perhaps like you
(Unless you’re a woman, that is);
Who knew in no uncertain terms
That Mud was bad - that’s just the way it is.
And he knew why, of course he did;
It wasn’t just a matter of say-so.
It was dirty, and messy, and quite unbecoming;
It stuck to you and smelled worse than Aunt Jo.
So he stayed away from the Mud, yes siree;
He didn’t want any of that monstrosity.
And that, my darlings, is where the story would end;
If not for a little thing called Curiosity.
Curiosity, you see, can be good or bad;
It’s a little whispering in the ear -
Wondering what it is that things are like,
That you haven’t had the chance to be near.
And when these things are jelly, roller-coasters or waterfalls,
Then that’s perfectly fine, you see;
But when it is something like Mud,
That’s when it becomes dangerous, unfortunately.
You see, this man John (for that was his name),
Started to wonder how it was Mud did look;
And so he decided to walk one day,
To see some - a glance was all he took.
But Curiosity is never sated with just a glance, no;
It must always have more.
And so John found himself getting closer to the Mud,
Though he knew quite well what was in store.
One day, he got so close to touch it - then he did!
And he didn’t know quite what to do;
Because people would see, and people would know -
And John didn’t want that, would you?
So he did his best to wash that bit off,
And it wasn’t really too hard;
But he still kept worrying that there was some left somewhere;
And so he started putting up his guard.
Yet he kept going back to the Mud,
Starting to go deeper and deeper;
And each time, trying to wash himself off,
But the danger got steeper and steeper.
Cleaning himself got harder as well,
‘Specially in those hard-to-reach bits;
And the worry got worse as he thought,
“What about the smell?”, and “I couldn’t take the hits.”
For he knew what people thought of Mud;
Knew that he would be cast out.
Never to see his friends, or family again;
And so he tried to turn about.
He tried to stay away from the Mud;
But that was easier said than done.
For he found, quite quickly, that he couldn’t stop;
The worst of him, it seemed, had won.
So he gave up; he went back in,
Into the Mud up to his neck.
And he probably would have drowned one day,
He was really a total wreck.
But, hold on! Wait up! That’s not the end!
I told you it’s not all bad!
Because along came another Man,
Who saw through John, and the fake cleanness he had.
And John saw him too - and for a moment,
Thought that it was the end.
But then the Man smiled, and said,
“Relax, John; I’m your friend.”
“You have tried and tried to wash yourself clean,
But it was never about your look.
It’s what’s inside that needs to be new;
That’s what’s been the hook.
“But now, I’m here - and I have living water,
That washes the inside.
You’ll be a new man - the old will be gone;
You won’t ever again need to hide.”
But John exclaimed, “How can that be?
How can I ever be clean?
I’ve been in the Mud up to my neck -
Don’t you know what that means?
“I’m dirty! I’m messy! I’m brown! and what’s worse, I stink!
Why do you even pretend to like me?
People would run away if they’d known what I’d done;
And for good reason - just leave me be.”
The Man smiled, and somehow, in that smile,
Conveyed the pain that he felt for John.
“I know what it is to be in the Mud, friend,” he said,
“Because I drowned in it so it would be gone.”
“But it’s still here!” John shouted,
“I don’t understand! What are you trying to say?
Even if you did drown, if you did what you said,
How would that make it go away?”
“John,” the Man said, “I know that you’re hurting;
But right now, you need to trust me.
It’s only when I clean you,
That you can be truly new and free.”
The words sounded crazy, like that of a madman;
Yet somehow, John knew he spoke true.
He didn’t know how, he didn’t know why -
But he also knew there was nothing he could do.
“Okay,” John said, “Do it.”
And he closed his eyes, and raised his hands.
A few moments passed, but nothing happened.
He opened his eyes - “I don’t understand.”
The Man smiled again - it was annoying, yet beautiful -
“I may be a miracle man;
But how do you expect me to clean you,
When two feet in the Mud you stand?”
“But,” John railed, “You promised,
That you could fully clean me!
Why does it matter where I stand,
If you can truly set me free?”
Yet even as he said the words,
He knew that they didn’t ring true.
They made sense, perhaps; quite logical indeed;
But that wouldn’t help him pull through.
Because all along, it was his heart that had feared;
Feared the rejection and the shame.
It was the brain that had tried to cover it up,
But he was tired of playing that game.
And somehow, John knew that this Man
Whom he had never met in his life before,
Could set his heart free of that fear, at last,
And give him new life forevermore.
And that little spark - that glimmer of Hope -
That was what helped him then.
He gave one hand to the Man, and then the other,
And the Man pulled him out again.
Then the Man washed him, from head to toe,
He felt so incredibly clean;
More even than before he’d even touched the Mud,
Or before it he’d ever seen.
And the Love that he felt from that Man
Was incredible, powerful and strange;
And slowly, his fear ebbed away;
His heart began to change.
Many years have passed since then,
And John is a brand new man;
Not only that, but now he makes others new,
By helping them to understand.
Because it’s not that he never touched or saw the Mud again
(For it can’t be thrown off overnight);
But it was that Hope and Love had found a place
Inside him, that burned bright.
And while he still stumbles along the way,
The Man is never too far;
And he always smiles - he always loves,
No matter how Muddy you are.
That’s the end of this story, dear folks,
And I hope that you’ve come to see,
That it’s not a story of Mud and despair -
But a story of Hope and Love, for you and for me.