Over the past three weeks, I’ve realized HOW LITTLE I DO AROUND THE HOUSE and HOW MUCH MY WIFE DOES. Julie—my wife—started back to work outside the home full-time at the beginning of the school year. (All our kids are full-time students, now, so it’s worked out for her to be able to do it.)
Amazingly, my carthatic realization of how much she does at home kicked-in right about the first hour she left for work. Trying to share the load over the past couple of weeks has wiped both of us out. (Worse yet, she won’t even give me an allowance for doing my chores.)
Well, one of my jobs this week was to get the bathroom clean. Cleaning the mirror with the glass cleaner…check. [Easy.] Sink…check. [Piece of cake.] Scrubbed down the toilet. [Not bad.]
Then I was tasked with cleaning the shower.
OK. Let’s just shoot straight. This shower had been severely neglected. If our shower had been a child, DCFS would have taken it into protective custody a year ago. It was bad. So with a devious and cynical smile, my wife directed me to the cabinet that held the can of the “scrubbing bubbles” stuff. So I grabbed it, marched into the shower and started to spray. And I started to scrub. Never before had I gotten so close to tile that was so—how can I say it?—ALIVE. The more I sprayed and scrubbed, the greater were the diminishing returns from my efforts. I was in my bare feet and slipping and sliding. Banging up against the walls and rubbing up against those—now tainted, greenish—scrubbing bubbles. (They had been WHITE when they came out of the spray can.)
I stepped out to take a look at how far I had come. And I realized that if this shower were Everest, I was still at base camp. And I made a decision. I could quit. (Subjecting myself to my wife’s comments like: “Now you know how much I do.” Or, “Now you know how little YOU do” or “Welcome to the real world, preacher.” You get the point.) I could quit or I could take this shower down.
I chose the latter and got down to business. I was scouring and scraping these tile. And after a few minutes, I realized I was making head-way. So I rinsed the walls down and saw I had made a difference on the tile…but was shocked to see how GREEN and GOOEY the grout still was. (I think there was still grout behind it, at least.) So, I got my scrubber and my fingernails and I micro-scraped like I believed the President would be showering at our house later that night. [SPRAY. RUB IT IN. SCRAPE WITH MY FINGERNAILS. Repeat.]
You know what I found out? The stains and the “growth” (I guess that’s what you’d call it) had been there so long, it had become a part of the grout. There would be no way that I could scrub it out. I could only cleanse this thing up to a point. It would never be perfect again. The only time that our shower will be perfect again will be when we demo it and re-build it. Of course, this realization was pretty devastating—because I had worked extraordinarily hard to make it clean. Only to realize that scouring and scrubbing bubbles can only go so far; I need a whole new construction.
Do you know how many of us try to clean the shower of our souls in just this same way? Way too many.
Has anyone ever asked you whether or not you’ll go to Heaven? It’s a pretty intense question. It’s almost rude to ask it of someone, isn’t it? How dare somebody ask us so intimate and so private of a question. (Well, I guess the question isn’t private. The answer is.) My 7-year-old asked it to me the other day. He wanted to know the answer to one of this life’s biggest questions.
If they can get over the shock of the question, a lot of folks will answer it by saying, “I try to be a good person.” A good person. What’s “good,” I often think to myself when I hear this reflexive, very popular answer to life’s toughest question.
Because it’s really wagering my soul like this: What’s a reasonably cleaned grout? What every person concludes to be REASONABLE GROUT is very subjective, isn’t it? What if I had given up without cleaning the grout—but just the tile? Would that have been “good” enough? When I didn’t quit there, but tried to microclean the crevices and gaps—the ugliest parts—was that “good” enough? (Even though me and every other shower-cleaning gazoo know it’s not truthfully “clean”?)
Neighbors and friends, you’re welcome to come and view my shower. It’s a living testimonial to the fact that we can’t scrub it enough. We need to be re-built. Our soul has to be demo’ed. If others were really invited into the shower of our naked souls, who of us wouldn’t be ashamed? Who of us wouldn’t be shocked that others saw the REAL US? Because deep down, none of us think we’re “good enough.” We know it. We feel the reality and weight of it when we lay our heads down and our souls move to the invisible parts of us that contain that part of us that isn’t “good.”
No religiosity, no string of good deeds, no best efforts will make our soul’s grout come clean. We have to confess we need to be re-built from the soul up. One of God’s passionate prophets who lived 2700 years ago, spent his life trying to be as righteous as he could for both God and man. With all of that passion and effort, he still admitted that “we are not godly. We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are [still] nothing but filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:5-6–nlt).
He’s not a pessimist. He’s a realist. Isaiah was just saying, “We can’t get the shower clean enough to make it perfect. It’s got to be re-built. Really, what’s the danger of admiting it?” Confessing it sure makes it easier to be around people! Because no one has a reasonable grout. Plus, letting Him build something more beautiful that works better makes us a lot happier—and cleaner! Let God re-build you. Jesus was the only perfectly clean, perfectly good Person to walk this earth. It means when He came to re-build all of us from and through the Cross and out of the empty resurrection tomb, the only good thing we imperfect humans would need to do is simply confess it.
Want to go to Heaven? Well, come start the journey of your decision in my shower.