Laundry nearly tops the list of “The Banes of Jill’s Existence.” The never ending cycle of washing, drying, folding, (never quite) putting away clothing is like a cruel joke or slight of hand magic trick where no matter how hard I work the job will NEVER be COMPLETELY done… never…
I could wash every.single.piece.of.dirty.clothes that exists in my home but (unless we left the home that very second) it’s inevitable that a new dirty piece will appear posthaste.
As if the torrential downpour of seemingly never ending laundry isn’t enough… enter STAINS. Even when I summit the Mount Everest of Laundry, stains, of the agony of stains which make it seem I’ve never cleaned the clothes at all. Stains come in a variety of shapes and origins. There are some good facebook posts and articles written with advice on how to treat different stains. I’ve even recently found a Hail Mary of all pre-treating sprays that was able to remove red Fruit Punch from a white dress after the stain had set in for more than 3-4 hours. But it is no cure-all…
We face another laundry reality: hard water. Which means over time, no matter how hard I try, whites will not stay white. So you know what? Sometimes I pre-treat like a mad woman. Other times the stains are too significant or nothing I try is effective and I just give up.
And I think our struggle with sin is quite similar. Sin leaves a stain affecting us and our relationship with God. We may have many methods we try to remove the stain of sin from our lives, but the stain is more than surface deep
You know, sometimes clean laundry isn’t as clean as I think. I’ve had baby clothes stored for a few years and when Calah was born I pulled out the newborn girls’ bin and was SO disappointed. Many of the cute newborn sleepers were stained, almost like I hadn’t washed them before putting into storage. Only I had. The problem? Spit up. While it may appear to have washed out of the clothing, over time the residue deep in the material was still damaging the fabric leading to a yellow stain. A stain that no amount of washing or fancy pre-treating tricks could remove.
Our sin is like that. Even when it seems we can remove the “surface stain,” sin continues to have a deeper effect that we cannot see.
King David faced the grave consequences of his sin with Bathsheba and the sin of murder as he tried to cover it up. Psalm 51 records his prayer of repentance to the Lord after the prophet Nathan confronted the King. And here’s something I hadn’t grappled with the reality of before reading this today, “There was no provision made for the cleansing of an adulterer under the law.” While God’s law for his people had ways for them to make atonement for a variety of sins through sacrifice and cleansing rituals, none was given for the sin of adultery. David had no means by which he could make himself clean in God’s sight.
His only hope? That God would wash him… that God would remove his sin… that God would create in him a clean heart. Where David couldn’t, God could make a way. David cries to God, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin… Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow… Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
Here lies our hope as well. Romans 8:3 reminds us that the law was unable to save us. But see, God did what the law could not. And through Christ’s sacrifice we are redeemed; “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” In Christ we are saved from our sins, we are washed clean, whiter than snow.
That really is quite the statement. A fresh snow fall is plenty white. It is hard to think of something whiter than snow, almost unthinkable. And maybe that’s what David was saying, that in God we are made cleaner than clean, purer than the most pure.
But I saw the other day that it could be true. While waiting for the bus as the snow was falling like a thick blanket, growing ever deeper on the ground and accumulating on us as well I saw something strange. Something that made me take a second look.
As I wiped the snow off Elanor’s backpack I was confused by the color I saw.
Her backpack was so white that the snow looked creamy. Whiter than snow.
It was like an optical illusion because the snow all around us looked as white as white could be, but not in comparison to the white fabric. Whiter than snow became real to me.
And in God, the seemingly impossible is possible because the stain of sin is not merely washed away. In Christ we are made new.
If David’s sin was like a stained shirt he could have continued to try to cover it up by putting yet another shirt over top, he could have tried to no avail to remove the stains, he could have decided since there was nothing he could do to remove the stain he’d just wear the shirt and not care. Instead, when faced with the reality, he took a bold step of faith in trusting that God alone could care for his sin.
Through Christ we too can know that God can make us whiter than snow, he can cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and can create a clean heart within us. He can make us new.