Day 17 – Wash Me!
Read Verse 2
“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.”
Read also Jeremiah 2:22 “Although you wash yourself with soap and use an abundance of cleansing powder, the stain of your guilt is still before me," declares the Sovereign LORD” (NIV)
The most immediate thing that struck me when I reflected on these verses is that we need God to wash us—I need God to wash me. It is not enough to do it ourselves because even an “abundance of soap” is not enough to cleanse us from our sins when we try to do it ourselves.
These reflections on washing make me think of children who like to wash up in the kitchen sink, or take a bath. Sometimes they use “an abundance of soap.” Bubbles and suds everywhere! Sometimes they love the bath—laughing and squealing with delight as they play and splash in it. Sometimes they resist our efforts to wash them—proudly declaring that they can do it themselves.
Their washing is not totally in vain. They do get cleaner than they were before. The most obvious dirt sloughs off in the soapy water and by virtue of their efforts. They do not emerge from the bath as dirty as they went in.
This is like me with God, trying to “get myself clean” with my own efforts. With some prayer, reading the confession in church with others, trying to refrain from bad habits and sinful activities and turning towards more positive activities. It is not totally in vain. It is good to shake loose the “dirt” of laziness or anger, bitterness or judgment, mindlessness or wastefulness. I believe that just as we as parents or grandparents smile and are pleased with the efforts of our children to get themselves clean, so God too is able to smile at our efforts to cleanse ourselves.
And yet, it is not enough. It is not enough to let an infant or toddler “do it myself” or they will never be clean. In the realm of eternity, we are but babes or at best toddlers in God’s kingdom. It is not enough for us to try to clean ourselves, as the Jeremiah passage demonstrates; even when we use “an abundance of soap” the stain of our guilt is still before him.
When we move from playtime to serious cleaning time with an infant or small child, the laughter sometimes turns to tears. The child does not like it so much when we scrub the places where the dirt is really ground in. She doesn’t like us getting behind the ears.
We also have to get the places that are hard for the child to reach herself—the back and butt for example. This is no longer play but serious business and so important. The child may complain, yell, cry and squirm to get away, but the good parent will patiently and persistently continue to wash the child until the child is thoroughly clean.
Are you ready to join me in saying to God, “My playtime in the bath is over, come and wash me. Get behind my ears, get all the hard to reach places. Help me to not squirm away from Your washing. Rather give me the courage to allow You to get to all the hard places, the stained places, and the hidden places where the dirt and crud has accumulated. Wash away all of my iniquities and cleanse me thoroughly even though I may not like it!”
As we reflect and write in our journals today, let’s listen to “What Can Wash Away my Sin”. This version, sung by a child is particularly appropriate to go with our reflection today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLHMKKAJF-0