Everyone has pet peeves and with almost 14 years in as a parent, I can say my wife and I have more than a few now. Being a bit of a clean freak I have been known to follow my kids, and anyone I deem prone to making a mess, around my house with my vacuum in toe. I am proud to say that I’m doing much better in this regard; although I’m sure there are some who would debate me on that. Never the less, with 2 growing kids, we are certainly kept hopping.
There never seems to be a lack of things around the house to clean and one constant over the year has been laundry. Dealing with laundry has kind of become like a climbers dream. Everywhere we look there’s always a mountain to summit. We’re always on expedition and just when we get to the top of one mountain, another is waiting just over the horizon. Whites, colors, darks; every mountain is built to be unique and failing to summit the mountain correctly, you’re likely to have an avalanche of problems.
Of all the frustrating problems one can encounter when doing laundry is that of trying to get stains out the clothes. We’ve learned quickly that grass, grease and mud are the toughest to get out. No matter how many times we try to warn our kids, they still seem to shorten the shelf life of their clothes long before they are due. We couldn’t tell you how many times they’ve put on a new shirt or a new pair pants only to come home with them ruined. Despite our best effort, despite the best stain remover, most often the only thing that seems to come out is the color and I lament.
I know one day I’ll look back on this and laugh. I’ll laugh even harder when our kids grow up to go through the same thing and ask us, “Were we like this? Did we do that?” and we’ll happily say yes. Many years away from that moment and with Easter just around the corner, I find myself thinking about a different kind of stain; that of my sin and the sinful nature.
Like a stain that won’t come out, the stain of our sin can be just as stubborn and just as visible. A great analogy for this is found in Jeremiah 2 v 22 where it says:
“Although you wash yourself with lye And use much soap, The stain of your iniquity is before Me,” declares the Lord GOD.
In saying this truth through the prophet to the people, God was confronting them with a reality that confronts me and should confront you today. Making things right or cleaning the slate clean as some might say is not something we can do on our own. A truth clearly missed by those of Jesus’s day and evidenced in the holiday we as believers are about to celebrate.
In saying the above I do realize there to be some who would surely like to challenge what I’m saying. After all, the Israelites of the Old Testament had the law; they had customs to follow and celebrations to have and remember. But in acknowledging those things to be valid, one must go deeper in an effort to understand why those things were necessary and from there look at the resulting outcomes.
From a why perspective it is all about roles and relationship. That those doing the things required of them would be doing them out of joy and sheer awe of who God is and who they are in his eyes. From that positon one is operating from the heart instead of out of compulsion. We see all through scriptures those who lived life from this position and what God produces in and through them. The result is beautifully worded in Ezekiel 36 v 26 when it says:
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
Sadly, this exchange was missed by many in Jesus’s day as is the same for many in our day. Jesus constantly found himself confronted by those who felt he should be living life there way. In response he took a common sense approach. Often asking, even challenging them to look at what he was doing and from there to be practical in understanding and applying meaning. As an example I refer to a healing Jesus had done on the Sabbath, a time when no one was to do any work. Their zeal for the law and there way of life had blinded them and Jesus has to ask the following in Mark 3 v 4:
“And He asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” But they were silent.”
As another example, see Paul’s appeal to King Agrippa found in Acts 26.
The line between what and why can be so thin. In focusing our attention on what we do, losing sight or even forgetting why we do it can happen. As a Christian, I always try to remind myself that it is in Christ alone that I am saved, made new and made right. The church in Ephesus had to be reminded of this Revelation 2 in that they had forgotten there first love. I pray for a reminder from him or his messenger should I ever forget and pray the same for you.
In bringing this to a close it is my prayer that you, if not a Christian, would consider the cross. That as the Easter season falls on you, that you would fall on Christ. You will be broken as stated in Matthew 21 v 44, but in that brokenness, allow his grace to do what only it can do in removing the stain to make you new. That the great exchange would be made in your life; resulting in your, receiving a new heart.
For the believer, should a reminder be needed, I pray it is received and received with gladness. And for this Easter that we as one voice would echo words heard of those in heaven in saying:
“Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
God Bless – Sean Bosse