September 1st, 2009
You may remember the story I wrote some time ago about Sadie’s first bath time nightmare. The screams of agony. The beet-red face. The grueling and squirming . . . but enough about me, you should have seen Sadie!
I told you, however, that she eventually became accustomed and even fond of the nocturnal ritual that she and I affectionately refer to as, “rubber ducky time.” At present, she has yet to vocalize these sentiments . . . so as usual, I do enough talking for everyone in the room. To be quite honest, bath time morphed into nothing less than blissful seasons of joy.
In the beginning, we continued the bathing of our Sadie Bell in the little baby bath tub that fit down into the kitchen sink. Laura and I cherished our time there and eventually, Sadie followed suit. So much so, that the occasion in question that has spawned this particular reflection was a moment of ultimate bath time serenity. When Sadie was about two months old, she actually fell fast asleep in the middle of her bath.
Now that is quite the metamorphosis! One bath tub . . . two extremes. One baby . . . two reactions. It is hard to imagine that the very place that horrified her beyond the point of reasonable anxiety later became the place that lulled her into a deep snooze. Just take a peek at the two pictures from both events and you’ll join me in amazement over the change.
The differences are truly striking. Skinny, bony little newborn. Plump, full-bellied infant. Newborn Sadie resembles a tiny little “hot link” while infant Sadie resembles a bland, uncooked bratwurst. As is often true with the mysteries of parenting, it’s hard to believe that those two babies are the same person.
Baths are pretty important. As a youth pastor, I’m intimately familiar with the dangers of skipping one’s daily cleansing ritual. After a decade of taking kids to camp, I’ve learned that you mustn’t assume that every boy will take a shower and that the swimming pool will often be cited as a legitimate substitute . . . but make no mistake, pool chlorine is no Dial.
The gospels record a little bath time discourse between Jesus and His disciples. John 13: 4-10 (NLT) tells us the story: “So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean.
We may know the story, but the principles can get lost in the familiarity. When you really break it down, Peter had a “Sadie-esque” metamorphosis. He began just like Sadie . . . and just like many of us . . . with a resistance to the cleansing of our filth. Can you really blame Peter? If you walked for miles a day in sandals, would you want the Savior of the world suiting up with a wash pail and scrubbing the dirt stains off of your bone spurs and bunions? Yeah, it just seems unnatural.
There was a component of the relationship between these two that Peter had yet to mature into: the fact that He would need to expose the dirtiest parts of his life to Jesus on a regular basis for cleansing. It is so true that we exist to serve God, but it’s easy to forget that God’s service to us is exponentially greater.
Notice Jesus’ words: “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean.” What He was saying to Peter was something like this: “Peter, you’ve already been changed because of your belief and relationship with me, but walking in this dirty world will require you to still come daily to me for cleansing.”
Makes sense, doesn’t it? Don’t we still bathe everyday? The reality of our condition is that we are cleansed people who’s feet still walk through a filthy world. We don’t need to re-experience salvation each day, but we do need to continually experience the ongoing cleansing that comes from our relationship with Him. It shouldn’t be unnatural . . . it should be supernatural.
And here’s the idea that pulls it all together. Like Sadie and Peter, as we mature, we should be less resistant and more comfortable with the daily offer of cleansing from our heavenly Father. Hey, how incredible would it be to trust so fully in the love and care of God . . . even with the realization that His hands are touching the nastiest part of our lives . . . that we shut our eyes and snooze away in total serenity?
Sadie eventually graduated to the “big girl” bathtub . . . the jury’s still out for me. I still struggle sometimes with my bath time with God. I’m learning to lay back and let the warm water of His forgiveness wash over me. I will always need it and I will always need it daily.
It’s no surprise, then, that at Sadie’s nine month pictures, we memorialized “rubber ducky time” with this photo. May the metamorphosis begin in my life just like it has in Sadie’s . . . bath time should be our favorite time . . . spiritually, of course.