I seem to learn things when I am out running and walking (maybe that's an indication that I need to work harder so I'm not so easily distracted) But last week I discovered something not-so-pleasant. It was a pile of throw-up. Yep. A big, disgusting, chunky pile of vomit. (I was thoughtful enough not to take or post a picture of it) It was gross, as you might imagine and I managed to avoid it successfully. But as I strode on, I began to wonder, "Who cleans that up?" It was on the edge of the sidewalk so no street sweeper would get to it. I don't think there is a city sidewalk clean up crew. It was on a corner lot and not in front of the house so it could go completely unnoticed by the residents. So whose job is it? I doubt the person who deposited it there is planning on returning to scoop it up...
Then my heart asked the question, who cleans up after me? Who removes the stench when I've thrown up all over someone else? I mean, I try to go back and apologize and re-build relationships when I am aware I have caused pain. But who does the deeper sanitizing work? Who has healed the pain in the wake of my disobedience and rebellion? Who has removed the stench of impatience and selfishness that I have left on my children over the years? What about the messes we leave behind because we are too hurt or too drunk or too short-sighted to even know we left them? Jesus does. He heals, He restores, He cleanses. And how thankful I am He does. I don't have the power or insight to do that level of clean up but I have faith and hope that He does.
The pile was still there today. It is drying up and changing consistency but it remains. I thought about how I could clean it up. I occasionally pick up trash as I walk. You know, a stray Starbucks cup or a fairly innocuous looking napkin. But vomit? I have my limits! And I hear God ask, "Do you have your limits in relationships as well?" Am I satisfied with helping my friends through a difficult time but if things get really messy do I back off? Am I afraid to assist God in His clean-up work if the person has too much stench from their past? Or am I willing to face their pain and mine and roll up my sleeves? Do I trust that the His blood has sanitized the places in my life soiled by my own sins and those committed against me? Surely God has what we need to do some deep cleaning!
"Purify me with hyssop and I shall be clean; Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:7