I often have some of my greatest revelations and conversations with God in the shower. It is turning into my "inner room" that I go into to pray, haha! I wonder if that is what Jesus had in mind in Matthew 6:6? Anyway, the other day I was cleaning the shower in my bathroom (I know, it happens on occasion but don't tell, I got a rep to protect...). It's the brand new shower, replaced after the ice incident this past winter. It is a nice shiny bright white, a welcome contrast to the former ugly brown shower which had gotten dulled by years of hard water and bad ventilation. But, even while it is nice and shiny and new, I am sad to report that there is still not great ventilation in there and this new shower seems to be as equally prone to icky mildew as the old one was. Gross. So, thus the need to clean it when it gets to the point where I can see it even without my contacts when I am in the shower (oh, um, just kidding, because that would be gross, right? I would NEVER let it get that bad...sure, never, that would be crazy...)
Anyway, my chatty but adorable 3 year old was sitting on the sink observing and talking my ear off, er, keeping me company while I cleaned and asked many questions, as 3 year olds are prone to do. I had tried to scrub the corners by reaching into the shower but was at a ridiculous angle as our bathroom is quite small and knew that the only way I could REALLY clean it was to get in there. I slipped off my shoes and stepped into the shower armed with my scrub brush. Thing 3 was quite intrigued by this and asked me why I was getting in the shower while I was dressed (and was careful to remind me eleventy-billion times not to turn the shower on since I was in my clothes :) ) I explained to her that the shower really needed to be cleaned and sometimes the only way to really get something clean is to get in there and get a little messy in the process. There was no way to get to the real grime and crud lurking in the corners while reaching across from the outside. Sure, I could get a little bit of the job done and swipe a few spots of ickyness away, but if I really wanted to remove the funk in all the nooks and crannies (btw, how gross is that phrase?? what even is a cranny?? ew.), I had to be right in front of the stains and grime to really put all my strength into scrubbing away the gross stuff. As I was explaining that to her, I thought how much it is like that with relationships with people. If we are going to help people to have their hearts made clean and spotless by introducing them to the saving grace of Jesus, we are going to have to get into their lives. We might be able to swipe some bits of niceness and sprinkle some drops of "Jesus" to folks by reaching into their lives from across the way, but if we really want to show them that they can be cleaned by the blood of the Savior, and if we really want them to know the true, holy, pure love of God, we have to be willing to roll up our sleeves and get messy with them. We need to go where they are, look with them at the dark murky corners if necessary (sometimes figuratively and sometimes literally) and be willing to work right in the middle of that with them to show them the cleansing power of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. There is just no other way other than to get in there, no matter how inconvenient or how daunting the prospect may seem. There are times when I can just do a quick spot clean of the shower to get it to hang on a little longer until I can get a good scrubbing in-you now, to get the bigger creepy spots to go away so they are less obvious. Jesus had a few times where he shared to great crowds from a distance (from the boat off the shores of Galilee, etc) and gave them a broad view of His purpose in coming to Earth, but His real work was done in His relationships with people when He got right in there with them-when He met the outcast Samaritan woman at the well, when He physically touched the leper, when He got into the boat with His fishermen disciples, when He spat on the earth to make a healing balm of mud for a blind man, and on and on. Those times where He got in and got messy while He cleaned hearts are what show He is a God who TRULY loves and will do whatever it takes to purify us unto Himself. We can hardly be expected to do less in the lives of others since the God we serve was willing to do it. We must be willing to get in there and get to work. For the next week after I got into my shower and saw the gleaming white walls, I was thrilled! (and also maybe I need to get out more...) The hard work of seemingly-endless scrubbing, which honestly annoyed me at the time, was so worth it to not have the heebie jeebies every time I stepped into my shiny, white, non-funky shower. It is also easier to keep clean once I give it a thorough scrubbing and see it looking so great-I am more motivated to do it more often! Realistically, I know I will have to do it again and again as that shower is prone to getting funkified pretty easily even though it is new, but hopefully not as much of a deep cleaning as that day. And once again I see that the human heart is so similar-prone to getting cruddy with sin and the burdens of life, but so much more easily de-gunked once we have a relationship with Jesus where are made new and we can go and get cleansed through prayer and forgiveness daily...and so yes, we will have to get in there and work and get grubby time and again in order to keep the crud of sin from creeping back in. But oh, there is nothing as good a clean heart before the Lord!! Just like with my mildewy shower, I need to let Jesus get into my heart to really get at every icky corner and be "made holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God's word" (Eph. 5:26), and I need to be willing to get into the lives of others so they too can know the beauty of the clean heart Jesus can give.
Who knew?? Cleaning the shower is good for more than just a funk-free bathing experience! It can teach you the things of God! ;)