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  • Jane Wheeler

My gutters...

I ran across another one of those sayings again, the kind that mull around inside my head – you know those ones that ramble around, showing up at the most inopportune times. The words bouncing and echoing off the back of your brain in a series of unending sound waves.

This one originated from Oswald Chambers – I truly love this man’s teachings. In his book My Upmost for His Highest, I call it my kick in the butt book, he says:

“ Our little “I am” always sulks and pouts when God says “do”. Isn’t it piercing to realize that God not only knows where we live, but also knows the gutters into which we crawl.” (October 4th)

I am a doer. Plain and simple, I feel better when I am doing. For whatever reason, wanting to be in control, wanting to do it myself (still in control), want to feel like what I do matters, I just plain – do. But when someone else tells me to “do” I often react, oh I usually will do it, but sometimes, I do it knowing that I am obeying on the outside but inside I am anything but compliant.

I have to admit that I often feel that way with God too. I will do it, but am I doing it sulking and pouting?

And then Oswald drives it home – “Isn’t it piercing to realize that God not only knows where we live, but also knows the gutters into which we crawl.” This is the sentence for me that will not stop.

I think we all realize God knows where we live – literally. He’s got your address. He knows all about your physical land address, He knows where you work, He knows where you play. Take this to the spiritual sense, He knows where you live here too – meaning He knows that in that certain set of circumstances, you will be uncomfortable, you will not like it, you might even get a ‘tude about doing it and you will probably try to head in the other direction. He lives inside you my friend, He knows where you live!

But then the clincher – “He also knows the gutters into which we crawl….”

Interesting – I was in Vancouver this past weekend and I saw police officers walking around in a huge dumpster and I was trying to figure out what they were doing in there. My brother told me that it is not uncommon for the homeless to get stuck in a dumpster like that. They crawl in, trying to rescue that item that might not be “trash” to them. The police get called to come and help them out of the dumpster and back onto safe ground.

I have had to do some soul searching on this because I did not want to believe I crawled into gutters – nope, no way. Gutters, those foul smelling, rotting areas of life, are for “other” people….not me. Those are the dark hiding places of trash, stuff that no one wants, places where people go to hide and not be seen.

As God is pulling me out of that self-imposed gutter of self-righteousness – I have to brush myself off and realize that that is one stinking attitude, right out of gutter city itself. Gutter #1

Gutter #2 – “other people” – I just cast the first stone, and also judged those others as if I had a right to – pride is an ugly thing. It is not okay for anyone to be crawling around in dumpsters or gutters. We all need someone to come rescue us and help us back onto solid and safe ground physically and spiritually. God does this, sometimes He sends us other people to help us and sometimes He does it Himself but Thank God He does not leave us wallowing around in the gutter forever.

Gutter #3 – Crawl – when God says “do” – what excuse, reason, justification comes to mind that permits me from going ahead and doing what I know I am supposed to. ‘Well it does not make sense’ I exclaim; I don’t know how, I have no time, I don’t want to… those reasons or excuses lead up my gutter #3 and 4 and quite possibly #5 and I crawl away and head in a totally opposite direction.

I am thankful that God knows the gutters I crawl into and He promises to be with me in them – “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5, Deuteronomy 31:6, 8) I trust this verse even if I think that God won't find me hiding in my dark self imposed gutter. God has promised to never leave me alone, in my gutter, my dumpster, my ‘tude – He is the one solid thing I can count on no matter if I am walking solidly or crawling through a mess. I believe that God has to sometimes shine the light onto our dark and messy areas in our life to get our attention focused on things that we would rather not have the attention on, thank you very much, and it is good and it is necessary. I for one do not want to keep crawling around the dumpster hoping to find some kind of treasure in a graveyard of scraps.

This week I printed off a saying to hang up in the library – “if we are not making mistakes, then we are not trying.” A mistake is not a failure, a crawl into the gutter is not a failure – oh it is not pretty but it is not a failure. Staying in the gutter is the failure, not being teachable is the failure, not trying, is the failure. God has this wonderful way of taking our mistakes, rounding up our failures and wrapping them in such a way to make a beautiful gift out of what we consider to be too ugly to count for anything – our gutter places. I love it – God takes the ugly and makes it into the beautiful; our trash turns into treasure. He will do it every time if we let Him. If I truly am honest, the lessons I learned from my gutter experiences are the ones I remember and grew the most in.

"In everything give thanks" (1 Thessolonians 5:18) from the gutter to the ground.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends!

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