Saturday, June 18, 2011

Do I Look Fat in this Dress? Or...The Garments of Praise, Part 2

Yesterday, when I was writing about spiritual dressing, about how dust and sackcloth sometimes cover our spirit, and about how God holds out garments of regeneration and redemption, always our size, and perfectly beautiful, I realized that there may be more practical application for these ideas. After all, I really do stand in my closet every morning scratching my head, wondering what to put on. Something prompts me to decide what to buy and what to wear and I really do spend a lot of time and brain power on something apparently inconsequential. But is it?

I know this: I take pleasure in the heft of my wedding dress' luxurious satin; I delight in the slick, wet feel of silk; I enjoy fur's heavy promise of warmth. Through contact with them, I know fine fabric from poor. And I know that some days, I can put on liquid linen or watery silk, feeling them move on me as I turn, and thank God with a clear heart. Some days, I can't. Some days, I pass the rich colors and tactile pleasure by, pulling down old jeans or yesterday's tee shirt. Some days, I can't bear the beauty.

God gave me this body on purpose, and sin necessitates that I cover it. My body, however, houses my spirit and when I clothe the one, I am also covering the other. I am forced to see and feel outside what I know inside.

Sin is not only dust and sackcloth--it is regret and sorrow. Righteousness is not only a rich robe--it is renewal and forgiveness and rebirth. Any dress I wear in sin will make me look drab. When any color seems to bring out a sparkle in my eyes, that sparkle comes from within. My clothes do no make me; they reflect me. No fine clothes can make a dirty man clean and, if I am honest, I will not even try to put them on in that condition. No matter how beautifully I try to cover shame, its horror will show, but neither will God's glory in me be diminished by any humble covering.

Clothes look and feel awkward not as much because they don't match each other, but because they don't match who I am relative to God. Bright colors go with boldness, light with soft clarity and purity, dark with heaviness. Modest clothes show confidence, revealing clothes show insecurity. Shapelessness projects fear or doubt, a good fit ease. In the end, it is God's revelation in my heart and soul that decide my wardrobe, not so much what hangs in my closet.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.--Isaiah 61:1-3

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