Updated: Jan 13, 2020
Lessons that impact your life can be taught by the most unsuspecting means. I expect to leave with a different perspective and new insights after attending a class, reading a book or listening to a podcast, but from using shampoo? I can attest that even an economy sized bottle of PERT can become quite the schoolmaster when used by God.
I have had the honor of washing the hair of the homeless during our ministry times on occasion. Although the process is not as dignified as we'd like, it's what we have at the time. The men and women that want their hair washed will take a towel to hold over their face and lean over a tub set up on the table. While bent over, the hair is wet using a jug of water, add a couple of squirts of shampoo and let the scrubbing commence.
One gentleman and I were making conversation about life issues while I scrubbed his scalp one day. Much like being in the hairdresser’s chair, our tongues felt free to talk about things that we, as strangers, would normally not sit and discuss. Then... time for the rinse.
I raised the gallon jug of water up to rinse the suds from his hair as he remained bent over the tub. His words suddenly ceased to flow, the bottom of my gray tub turned brown while his face flushed red. The homeless man humbly said to me ....“I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize I was so dirty”.
If I asked you to weigh in on the lesson that day, I imagine I would hear... "we are all sinners, dirty before a Holy God, until washed clean by Christ's sacrifice". That is a life altering lesson and one that should always be remembered. But, for me, a girl raised around church people, church walls, church services two to three times a week... it was not the exact lesson God was pressing into my pride filled spirit that day.
I'd called myself Christian so long, that the fact that I was a sinner, unclean, unworthy before knowing Jesus, was like ancient history. I had become comfortable and self sufficient. God was my friend not my enemy. I was righteous in his eyes. I was known and loved by Him. Forgiven by Him. All of these things were true AND I became less needy, forgetting what I looked and smelt like before God's intervention in my life.
I could easily say that I knew Jesus was the sacrifice for us all and without Him there was no Savior. At the same time, I could have the secret un-confessed thought that others needed Him more desperately than I. ‘I am dirty….but not THAT dirty’. If we could only see what Christ washed out, like that homeless man did. We are prone to forget. We are prone to forget that without a supernatural washing, our water is brown too.
Is it so easy to slip into the Pharisee's robe and forget WHO God is.
'I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ Luke 9: 11-12
Some of the most dangerous times in my life can be seasons of prosperity and ease. Human behavior in 2019 is the same as in the day Deuteronomy was penned. Our environments are vastly different, but our hearts and minds are drawn down the same paths.
"Then it shall come about when the LORD your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then WATCH YOURSELF, that you do not forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery" - Deuteronomy 6: 10-12 (ESV) (emphasis my own)
If we don’t watch ourselves, we tend to forget how we got where we are. If we don’t watch ourselves, we tend to forget that none of us are good enough. If we don’t watch ourselves, we tend to forget WHO he is. He is the LORD with ALL authority to do as he pleases. He kills and he gives life. He wounds and he heals. He saves. He cleanses. We, who know him, are called to a holy life, not because of anything we have done, but because of his own purpose (2 Tim 1:9). If we don’t watch ourselves, we tend to forget that we are clean only because of His grace and mercy.
All of my fancy foam soaps, filtered water and high cotton cloths cannot produce a holy life. Without Christ, my water is brown. Lesson Two.