Judge me if you will, but I fancy dressing the way God created us before Adam and Eve began shopping at Abercrombie and Fig. So it should have been no surprise when I found myself in nothing but a towel prancing around a strange neighborhood after locking myself out of the home at which I was house sitting. Yes, I'd been chunky dunking in the pool. After a relaxing, enjoyable time of swimming and solitude, I left the pool to go back into the house—to discover that I'd accidentally locked the door to the house.
Worse, as I glanced through the door window, I could see my cell phone sitting on the kitchen table.
I tightened the towel around me and paraded around the outside of the house and yard searching for an unlocked door, open window, or hidden key I knew wasn't there.
No, this house was locked up tight.
Having no other options, I headed to a neighbor's house, to see if I could find someone to help. No one answered there or at the second house. I figured they either weren't home or were passed out on the floor from laughing at the naked girl in a towel on their front porch.
Finally I stood at door number three in front of a terrified woman. As I begged her to loan me a phone, I realized I knew no phone numbers. They were all stored safely in the speed dial of the cell phone sitting oh so conveniently on the kitchen table. At last I was able to locate someone who knew the home owner's cell phone number, and the home owner held back her laughter long enough to give me the garage code, thus opening the door to my safe haven—and my clothes.
Stuck in the Buff Moments
During this ordeal I kept praying for God to help me, yet I knew deep down he had a lesson, maybe more than one, in mind for me. I was certainly open to learning, but where is the natural lesson in being locked out of a house in nothing but a towel? It wasn't like one of those deep Mary-Martha moments. Maybe God was thinking I'd relate with a leper whom people saw yet hurriedly avoided. I pictured our humor-loving God with a knowing grin on his face, shaking his head, trying not to laugh at his dear child in such a panic. But the main thought that kept crossing my mind was, Not funny, God! Even I had to admit, though, I'd have a great laugh and a comical story to share—long after the situation was over!
Don't you think life has these "stuck in the buff with no options" moments? The truth is that most of them are our own making. God told the Israelites in Hosea 14:1, "Your sins have been your downfall!" (NIV). We set ourselves up to get locked out of where God wants us to be, and then we have to stand "naked" before him in complete humility. He calls us somewhere out of our comfort zone, and so often this causes us immediately to feel locked out with no options. We begin searching for possible solutions other than him and his plan, but we already know our frail attempts will fall short. For some reason, though, we try them anyway.
We search for keys that aren't there or for windows that just might have been left open despite the harsh weather. All the while, God is gently whispering, "You know this won't work. You know what you have to do …. I'll wait." In our deprived human strength we finally reach the end of our possibilities, and we can either choose to humble ourselves and ask for help from the source we knew we should have gone to first, or we can continue to stand, stripped down, refusing to admit our helplessness.
I look back on my "buff" situation and wonder how many people might have been looking out windows as I tried every door more than once even though I knew they were all locked. I wonder who could have been looking and thinking, You goofball, you've already tried that once, and it's not working! Did they see me spend wasted time on hopeless options, when I could have spared myself a smidgen of embarrassment had I accepted the futility of my efforts the first time? Psalm 14:2 says, "The LORD looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God."
Fortunately God is patient with us even when we're goofballs. He'll remain faithfully waiting, as we waste time and stubbornly turn to every option but him. Then when we're completely bare (pun intended), he'll rescue us and clothe our nakedness and shame in his garments of love and grace. He'll be our safe haven. And he'll probably teach us that in the future we should always swim in the pools of his will, fully outfitted in suits of obedience!
Holly Mickler is a teacher, writer, and humorist who lives in Florida.