Getting Clean

COVID ran rampant, and I was scared to get clean.

Only once before had I gone more than three days without a shower—when my daughter and I had backpacked for five days and had no way to take a shower or a bath. Washing off in creeks and rivers proved the best we could do. This time, things differed.

My wife and I decided on a summer camping trip to Oconee State Park in Upstate South Carolina. We had been before, but not since COVID hit. I didn’t worry about being close to people—the campgrounds were only half full—but I did worry about using the bathhouses. Did they have attendants cleaning them regularly? Could germs remain on the shower floor? I wasn’t a fan of campground showers to begin with, and the pandemic had put a new face on my fear of catching germs. Not that I had ever been a germophobe, but neither did I want to catch something that could put me in the hospital…or kill me.

On most of our camping trips, we do a little hiking. But not this time, which made it easier for me to skip the shower. We just hung around camp. Cooking. Talking, Playing games. Lounging the days away. Each day, my wife asked, “Are you going to shower today?” And I would answer, “Nah.” Instead, just before getting into bed, I performed a nightly ritual. Out came the face wipes for my face, ears, and bald head. Then came the disposable wipes for my body. I topped this off with deodorant, and I felt like a new man. No need for a shower.

But after three days, I began to feel a little icky. I didn’t give in and use the bathhouse shower, but I did hit the shower as soon as we got home. The nice warm water running over my body felt exhilarating. And so did the soap that washed away the camp dirt and all the accumulating smells. Nothing feels as good as getting clean after a good dirt bath.

Another type of dirt exists that we can’t always feel. The Bible calls it sin. Almost a politically incorrect term in the twenty-first century, but an accurate description of our dirt, nevertheless. The disciples had it before Jesus washed them—and so has everyone since Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God.

Sin clings to us like no other type of dirt we could encounter. Regardless of my efforts to wash it away, it adheres, leading me to wrong thoughts, attitudes, and actions. I can say, “I’m going to stop this madness,” but I don’t. I can’t.

The type of bath we all need requires more power than we can muster. We need a blood bath. A kind of bath that might seem a little repulsive to some, but the only kind that will wash us clean. The kind the disciples had experienced. The kind Jesus said would keep them from needing any future baths. Ever. Now there’s a bath.

“Jesus replied, ‘A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you’” (John 13:10 NLT).

Bathing this way requires something uncomfortable for most of us: repentance, confession, sorrow. Changing actions we might enjoy, but actions that offend a holy God. Putting away what offends Him and adopting a lifestyle that pleases Him. A lifestyle that leads to abundance and peace such as we’ve never experienced. A lifestyle dirt can never deliver.

Taking a nice long soaking bath or a hot shower refreshes the body and spirit, but nothing rejuvenates the soul such as the bath of forgiveness. And once our sins are forgiven, we are clean. No need to bathe again.

Martin Wiles

Martin lives in Greenwood, SC, and is the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions (www.christiandevotions.us), the Senior Editor for Inspire-a-Fire, and a Copy Editor for Courier Publishing. He is an author, English teacher, minister, and freelance editor. He is the founder of Love Lines from God and the author of six books, including his most recent, A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes for a Noisy World. He has also been published in numerous publications. He and his wife are parents of two and grandparents of five. He can be contacted at martinwileseditor@gmail.com.

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