August 21, 2009
The Stink That Didn't Go Away
"… let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." Hebrews 10:22 (NIV)
It had been a busy Saturday catching up on laundry and housework. With a family of seven, it seemed the loads of dirty clothes were un-ending. By evening time, I was ready to forget about grass-stained jeans and splatters of food on t-shirts. With everyone's help, we folded the last load and put fresh-smelling clothes into drawers and closets. I shut the dryer door and sighed in relief.
By the middle of the week, however, it was time to start a few more loads of laundry. I opened the washing machine door, and a wave of sour-smelling air from forgotten wet clothes engulfed me. I groaned in frustration, wondering what to do. The smart thing would have been to rewash the clothes. But living in the desert, I've grown up trying to conserve water, so I debated my options.
Finally, I decided to take my chances on a dryer sheet removing the stink. I put the smelly clothes in the dryer, throwing in an extra fabric softener sheet for good measure. Sixty minutes later, I discovered my plan had failed. Now they were dry sour-smelling clothes.
Again I faced a decision - should I rewash the entire load or have my family wear smelly clothes? Before rewashing them, I decided to make one more attempt at removing the smell and grabbed the fabric spray designed to remove odors. I spritzed that sweet-smelling liquid up and down pants legs and t-shirts, and was rewarded with clothes that smelled sickenly sweet.
I probably shouldn't admit this in public, but having three teenage boys, I decided to have them wear these clothes as they were. They've worn worse, I figured. I rewashed my daughters' and husband's clothes. One pair of jeans was mine, and I decided to wear those, hoping the unpleasant scent would dissipate.
A week later, I wore the above-mentioned jeans … and they still stunk! All of my attempts to remove the sour smell had failed. The extra dryer sheet, the odor-removing fabric spray and time in the closet didn't remove the stink. Throughout the day, I would catch a scent of that yucky smell, which made me wonder who else could smell it.
What a lesson I learned! The only way to get rid of the stink was to rewash the clothes. Any other attempt to mask the odor not only failed, but also made it worse.
There have been many times in my life when I've done something "stinky" … whether an unkind word, an impatient response, an unforgiving heart or a wrong choice. It's been easier to gloss over that behavior or attitude and go on with life. To be honest, admitting I've said or done something wrong is hard. I know I need to confess it to God, ask forgiveness from those I've offended and make amends where necessary. Sometimes I would just rather spray a little perfume on the incident and hope that covers the wrong. But it doesn't work.
Un-confessed wrong only grows more sour, like those clothes in my washing machine. The only way to deal with it is to bring it out in the light, wash it in God's forgiveness and then move on. Thankfully, we serve a God who delights in our humble hearts, and who offers forgiveness freely. I'll take that sweet smelling offer any day!
Dear Lord, thank you for forgiving my sins with such loving kindness. I confess there have been times when I've tried to avoid dealing with sin. Just like the bad smell in my laundry, the remnants of sin don't go away. I want to be washed clean with your love and forgiveness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst
Consider joining a Gather and Grow Group for deeper friendships and accountability
Many women deal with un-confessed sin from years ago. It's never too late to ask God for forgiveness. If you have something in your past that needs to be brought in the light, do that today.
Why do we sometimes neglect to confess our sins, even though we know God will forgive us?
How does un-confessed sin negatively impact a woman?
What rewards do we receive when we confess sin?
1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (NIV)
Luke 5:32, "I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent." (NLT)
© 2009 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
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