Are we obsessed with being clean?
No really. There was a time when there were only two kinds of soap: liquid and bar. Liquid was used for washing dishes and the bar was for washing people. Now there’s liquid, bar, cream, exfoliating, moisturizing, anti-bacterial, perfumed, unscented, and many combinations of the above. And these are just for the shower! We have Wet Ones for a convenient on-the-go freshening, baby wipes for stinky bottoms, and my favorite travel companion: hand gel. Which thankfully comes in many wonderful colors and fragrances.
Apparently there is more dirt to be washed away and more germs to be eradicated than ever before in history. Either that, or we’re obsessed.
My obsession for hand gel reached epic proportions in India. The only water available during the day was bottled water we carried for drinking. Temperatures rose with the sun each day and we were covered in dirt and sweat. So no water could be spared for washing hands. After playing with kids in the dirty confines of leper colonies and orphanages, how do you clean your hands enough to eat an energy bar? Do you risk touching a banana and hope any viral grunge is blocked by the peel?
And so my love for hand gel was born. I lathered it and slathered it over and over every day, as the anti-bacterial gel mysteriously evaporated with each rub.
But it didn’t wash off the dirt.
My cure-all hand gel may have killed germs and smelled good, but it had no way of washing away the grime. The hand gel only masked the dirt that then congregated under my fingernails. It was gross. And not clean.
A lot of us want a steady supply of hand gel in our daily lives. Myself included. We don’t want to get our hands dirty in real humanity. We don’t want to risk catching a dread disease from someone who’s homeless or struggling with addiction. We don’t want to be inconvenienced by pausing our busy schedule to help carry someone else’s load today. We don’t want to feel the uneasiness that would come if we dared to reach out our hand to someone sinking in the quicksand of hopelessness. We don’t want to acknowledge the dirt in our own life.
We want to look good and smell good and think we’re clean.
But we all have dirt under our fingernails. Nothing we buy will ever wash off the dirt of this world. So it’s time to stop trying to lather up with hand gel. It’s time to touch the real lives of other people. It’s time to accept our dirt of the past and theirs too.
It’s time to come clean about where we’ve really been and realize that there are so many other girls out there who’ve been trudging through the same mud pits of life.
Because we don’t have to stay there. We can be washed clean. Of everything.
There’s a place, only one place, where all the muck and grime of real life can be washed away. At the spring of Living Water. Jesus Christ. He can take it all away–the pain, the shame, the isolation, the regret. He can make us shine as white as snow. He can make us new. And He will. If we humbly come before Him and ask Him to.
The best part is that His Living Water never runs out. We don’t have to save it. We don’t have to hide it. Jesus wants us to share it with all the people out there like us. Everyone with dirt under their fingernails.
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd; He will lead them to springs of Living Water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17
May I pray?
Lord, it’s not easy thinking about the dirt in our own life. And it’s not easy talking about getting our hands dirty by reaching a helping hand into the lives of others. So Jesus, we look to You. You didn’t come to hang out with clean people. You came to save the unclean. You came to wash us of everything that weighs us down and makes us feel dirty. You are the Living Water that refreshes and renews. And You offer to wash away the stains of the past. All of them. Today, may we have the courage to try something new, and bare our dirt before You so You can begin washing it away. Amen.
Q4U: What is one new way you could extend a hand to someone, or how did someone reach out to help you in a time of need?