My eyes and nostrils burn from the pungent fumes of household bleach. For today, I meant business with my upstairs shower stall—the one I never use—which got plenty of use this summer.
Long, steamy showers (and a lack of ventilation) allowed specks of black mold to creep into the crevices of grout between the shower tiles.
With gloved hands, I scrubbed the shower walls and basin with a brush. Then I held a dish towel to my face while I attacked the grout with my spray bottle of bleach.
Spray. Scrub. Rinse. Repeat.
Water flowed down the shower stall walls, becoming a mucky grey, and swirled down the drain.
Satisfied, I advanced towards the commode, brandishing my toilet brush. I showed no mercy to the porcelain. I also mopped floors. Washed laundry. Cleaned out the cat’s litter box.
My housework wasn’t finished until I’d emptied all the garbage cans and took the outdoor trash can to the curb. Then I washed my hands of last week’s rubbish. Good riddance.
However, I believe God had something else in mind that needed cleansing. Because when I grabbed a red apple from the fruit bowl and sliced it open….
The core was rotten.
Disgusted, I tossed the apple in my yard (picnic for the ants) and sensed the core of my being under God’s scrutiny.
I can appear pleasing to the eye. Paste on a smile, straighten my halo. Only, there are grimy weeks when unconfessed sin festers inside me like that rotting apple.
“Forgive my trespasses” is spoken hurriedly so I can pray for my needs and intercede for others. When in fact, my real need is a contrite heart that will…
- Pause for genuine reflection and confession.
- Implore God to reveal sins I’m not aware of that hinder my walk; break His heart.
- Allow Him to “wash me” clean
“Wash me” the same way a woman would wash her clothes on a scrub board or the river rocks. No quick rinse cycle. She pounds and beats the cloth to purge the dirt.
When King David sinned with Bathsheba he prayed, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7).
David’s plea for God’s forgiveness included his desire for a deep-heart cleansing.
He wanted God to purge him with hyssop—an herbal plant related to the mint family which contained medicinal and cleansing agents. Hyssop was used in the ceremonial cleansing of people and houses.
Hyssop is also mentioned during Jesus’ crucifixion. A Roman soldier offered Jesus a drink of sour wine on a sponge at the end of a hyssop stalk (John 19: 28-30).
While the plant may have been chosen because the stalk was long enough to reach his mouth, surely God meant this as a picture of purification. For in the Old Testament, blood and hyssop purified a defiled person. In the New Testament, Jesus’ shed blood purifies sinners.
Even in this…filthy mess of a day when my sins disgust me…I can lift my bleach-scented hands and praise the Lord because…
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).