On the opposite side of the equator, spring comes in August and September. And the monsoon rains in the mountains bring a flood of water down the Nile to Egypt. As we all learned in grade school, the desert stretches for hundreds of miles in every direction, but the banks of the Nile are lush and fertile. These annual floods churn up the silt in the Nile, and when the flood waters recede the land is renewed. Without these annual floods, the water would be still, and the silt would settle on the bottom of the river. There would be no farming, no agriculture, no life.

Admittedly, it’s hard to think of things in the context of spring with frigid temperatures and snow and ice encrusting our cars. There’s no green anywhere except pine trees dotting the landscape here and there, like an oasis in a desert of white and brown. But after we’re done ringing in the New Year, our thoughts for what we’re going to do with it come rushing like an unstoppable flood. Every January, people’s minds usually turn to thoughts of renewal. What new projects am I going to undertake this year? What goals am I going to set? What did I not get to last year that I am definitely going to get to this year? It’s like a mental springtime.

And when we’re done, we feel assured and confident, don’t we? “I have a plan! I’m going to get some things done!” We look at our plan and can picture what’s to come. We know we’re going to get muddy and dirty, sweaty, covered with paint and sawdust, but we also know that at the end of it we can crack open a beverage and look at what we’ve done with pride. “Look at the room I remodeled! Look at the deck I built! Look at the landscaping I did!” It’s always rewarding to build things, to make something out of nothing, and let’s be honest, it’s always satisfying to use power tools.

But there are other things we can build, other things we can do, that need to be on our list.

The Holy Spirit in our souls is like the silt in the river: If we let it sit, it will settle and we will cease to be fruitful for God. We need to shake up the waters of our souls and churn up the Holy Spirit within us so that we are overflowing. Yes, we are going to get muddy. We are going to get dirty. But that’s the point.

If we’re willing to work up a sweat doing things for ourselves, we need to be willing to work up a sweat doing things for the Lord. If we’re willing to set aside time to accomplish things around our house, we need to set aside time to accomplish things at God’s house. While our thoughts of to-do lists generally revolve around family, home, and friends, we need to ask ourselves: what major to-do items are we going to do for God this year? What is He asking us to do for Him? What did He ask you to do last year that you didn’t get to? Who did you turn away from helping last year because you were afraid of getting too dirty?

So often we turn away from doing the most difficult things that God needs us to do because we know it’s going to get us a little dirty in our social circle. How often do we turn away from helping certain people, or even talking to them, because we deem them to be worse sinners than us and we’re afraid of guilt by association? We don’t want to get ourselves dirty with the social stigma of keeping company with the very people God is asking us to help. Yet this didn’t stop Jesus from going into the home of tax collectors and eating with sinners so that He could point them to the road of salvation. And when Jesus came upon a man blind from birth, which the Jews believed was a sign that he had inherited his father’s sin, what did Jesus do? He spit in the dirt and made mud, got his hands dirty, and restored the man’s sight. If we’re willing to get dirty doing the hard work that is important in our lives, we need to be willing to get our hands dirty doing God’s work in other people’s lives. Remember that God needs us to get dirty so that we can open their eyes so that they may see the path home.

God is calling us all to get a little muddy in service to Him. The work isn’t always easy, and sure, there will be times you don’t even want to do it. But at the end of the day when you stand there admiring the fruits of your labor, exhausted and sweaty and covered in the glorious life-giving mud of the Holy Spirit, just think of how great that frosty beverage will taste.