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Friday, March 9, 2007

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

“Are you ready to wash?”

Eliana giggles and eagerly begins handing me bath toys, her pudgy little fingers grasping the foam letters and passing them to me as I reach up and deposit them in a mesh bag. When I reach over to the pump that holds her baby wash, she giggles again and holds her arms close to her body, her hands beneath her chin. While I lather my hands together, she watches intently, and when I reach out for her, she is ready.

She offers her arm to me freely, curiously eyeing the bubbles as they drip into the water, her delighted eyes gazing into mine; so trusting, so innocent. She is not ashamed to be naked, nor is she embarrassed at her “filth”. All she knows is that it is time to be clean.

When I lay her on her back to rinse her hair in the water, she responds to my quiet, “Be still,” and relaxes her body into the warm soapy water. And when I wrap her in her fluffy towel, we linger and watch the water as it circles the drain, and finally washes away. “Bye-bye!” I whisper, eliciting yet another delighted giggle from my baby.

"It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?'

Jesus replied, 'You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.'
'No,' said Peter, 'you shall never wash my feet.'
Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.'
'Then, Lord,' Simon Peter replied, 'not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!'"
(John 13:1-17)

To receive the full extent of His love, we must allow Him to wash us.

But.

I approach the basin timidly, covering myself in shame. I pull out of His grasp, resisting mentally, emotionally, and physically. I feel guilt and humiliation at the extent of my filth, and I’m even unsure that this washing will truly bring about the change He desires. I do not offer my arms freely. I disregard His gentle words, “Be still,” and continue to slip out of His grasp.

And the worst part? I’ll be back here again tomorrow, Lord, and I just can’t stand that. What is the point, if I’m only going to roll in my sin again?

Lather, rinse, repeat. Again and again and again. This is the part that holds me back from being cleansed – the fact that it is repeated daily. The defeat I feel when I’m back in that place again, kneeling next to the basin, eyeing the water and the towel that wait to wash me anew. Knowing it is a never ending, heartbreaking process.

But when I washed my baby girl, I did not think of the dirt she would accumulate the next day. I was concerned only with the task at hand. Clean the filth of this day, and this day only, from my beloved.

And so it is with our Father as well. Beloved, let me wash the sin of this day away. No, don’t remind me of yesterday. I don’t want to talk about tomorrow. Be still, and I will make this day new.

Later, as I dressed Eliana in her soft, fuzzy pajamas, I thought upon this passage –

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:11-14)

It is not my job to keep track of my transgressions, not when they’ve been washed away, albeit daily, by the Man with the basin and the towel. He knows how I am formed, that I am merely dust, and dust needs washing. I needn’t be a squirming, squalling baby while He is in the process of washing away the grime of my sin.

And so I offer up my sin-laden body to Him. I look into His eyes, allowing delight to race over my countenance as He washes me clean. I shall trust in my heart that He will never remind me of my filth, nor will He dredge up the sin that He has removed and thrown away from me as far as the east is from the west.

I want to stand in the shelter of His arms, wrapped in His love, and watch my filth circling the drain, then washing away.

And...
...repeat.

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22 Comments:

Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

Beautifully stated, Elise.

March 9, 2007 at 11:41 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

This is really beautiful, thanks for sharing.

March 10, 2007 at 1:44 AM  
Blogger Cyndi said...

Oh, Elise, this was a beautiful portrait of a life in the pursuit of holiness. I loved this so much!

March 10, 2007 at 7:34 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

Beautiful analogy! All too often I squirm about while He's trying to wash me. I don't want to get into the tub and, once I do, I get so caught up in playing with the bath toys, unwilling to be still, to relax in His arms. Then I become insistent that I remain in the dirty water rather than allowing Him to remove me and wrap me in the fluffy towel of His love. And repeat.

You post is definitely going to stick with me.

March 10, 2007 at 8:00 AM  
Blogger Kendra said...

I love your analogy here. You have such a gift for seeing the sweetness of our Lord in the everyday.

March 10, 2007 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger Mrs. S said...

This post is a great blessing, Elise. He washes our transgressions daily. Beautiful.

March 10, 2007 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Thank goodness his mercies are new every morning, the fount is available every day at the moment we realize we need it. Great post.

March 10, 2007 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Laurel Wreath said...

This is so beautiful, you take an everyday task that we don't think much about and make it profound. I love it, I will never look at "lather rinse repeat" the same again.

March 10, 2007 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Thank you for painting such a beautiful portrait of His amazing grace and love.

March 10, 2007 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Beautiful-I hope to remember this often when washing my little girl.

March 10, 2007 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Elise,

Beautiful illustration.

Thank you, sweet sister, for using the gifts He has given you to bless us all.

~Stacy

March 10, 2007 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Elise, what a powerful expression of the gentle side of God. You write so beautifully. It really spoke to me today, thank you.

March 10, 2007 at 1:12 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Ah, I come here weary from the day's tasks and feel a deep sigh coming to relax away what has tension has lingered. I love your writing, your comfort with our Father and your delight in your children. Thank you!

March 10, 2007 at 3:10 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Thank you so much for this beautiful picture of cleansing Elise. I've struggled with exactly what you wrote about - feeling so ashamed that I needed repeated cleansing (so many times for the same old thing). You have given me a wonderful way to picture being forgiven and made clean. I love this.

March 10, 2007 at 9:32 PM  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

Well done. Very well. Thanks so much for sharing what Christ is teaching you.

March 10, 2007 at 11:30 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

I love this and am reminded of this verse:

1 John 1:9...If we confess our sins He is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. Praise God!

Kim

March 11, 2007 at 7:04 AM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Isn't this fun. It's hard to believe there are sooooo many nice, christian women out there. Nice blog. I'll be back. God Bless.

March 11, 2007 at 9:37 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Love, love, LOVE that. It's comforting to know that He does not think of our sins tommorow. Hallelujah!

March 12, 2007 at 8:13 PM  
Blogger Ann V.@HolyExperience said...

I am repeating it to myself: Lather, rinse, repeat.

He can't wash me with my clothes still on. I have to strip it bare, reveal it all, let Him wash it all--in between the toes, in the curve behind the ear--all clean.

Then lather, rinse, repeat.

My gratitude, Elise...
Ann

March 12, 2007 at 10:03 PM  
Blogger Wendy WaterBirde said...

I really loved this Elise, and its touched something. It's making me feel that forgiveness is one of the "quotidian mysteries" really, something that by its nature is meant to be done again and again--and that that's for a healing reason. Just like we worship and pray again and again, or clean again and again, or eat again and again--we are meant to, its meant to be "quotidian" (daily), because we need the dailiness of it, the cycle of it, the circling of it through us like that. Something about this feels SO healing somehow, and I love seeing that forgiveness is in this very circle...

Thank you so much for this Elise : )

Blessed Week <>< Wendy

March 13, 2007 at 1:46 AM  
Blogger TaunaLen said...

Thank you for an amazing, inspiring piece. It really hit my heart today. Hope your break was refreshing!

~TaunaLen

March 13, 2007 at 3:21 PM  
Anonymous eph2810 said...

Elise, how beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing...

Yes, I stand at the basin daily too -- and sometimes more than once a day. I am just glad that He still forgives me...

Blessings to you and yours.

March 15, 2007 at 8:10 PM  

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