Have you ever washed burner drip pans? You know, the bowl-shaped pans in which the burner coils rest? If you have, you know that they are notoriously dirty because: a) they catch all the debris that flies out of the pan when you are cooking, and b) the debris tends to harden because we rarely clean them often enough! I was cleaning the burner pans from my stove the other day and realized just how hard it is to clean them. Though I scoured them with a sponge and detergent, my efforts were to no avail. I could not make them clean.
But it’s not just burner pans that become filthy and stained. Clothes, carpets, and upholstery, take your pick. We have all had the experience of mistakenly marking our things. And scrub as we may, scour as we might, sometimes we cannot remove the marks.
How often does the spiritual life feel like this? How often do we find ourselves longing to be made clean, striving to wash away the marks left behind in the wake of our sin?
I know that I have experienced this countless times. Weary and worn from sin, I try to fix myself. I try to clean up the mess that I’ve made of my heart. I try to heal myself, but I can’t. I can’t fix myself. I can’t make my heart clean again. Only God can do this.
These are the times I turn to scripture and plead with God, “Have mercy, on me, O God, according to your steadfast love… purge me with hyssop, and I shall be made clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Ps. 51:1-2). With a broken and contrite heart, I beg God for mercy, “create in me a clean heart, O God… restore to me the joy of your salvation” (Ps. 51:12, 14).
In “White As Snow”, singer Jon Foreman gives voice to this verse in song. The music builds to a beautiful bridge that cries out to God, “wash me white as snow, and I will be made whole.” What a beautiful image! What would it be like to be made clean like that? For all my sins to be washed away? To be made white as snow? What would it be like to be made whole? To feel restored and complete?
God longs to make us clean. God wants to make us whole. But do we have the courage to ask? Are we bold enough to beg for mercy?
As we continue our Lenten journeys, let us be bold, let us be brash, let us beg God for the healing and wholeness we need, the healing and wholeness that only God can bring but that God longs to give.