by pastor Billy Byler
There’s a certain unfairness in the act of cleaning that just irritates me. I know that tidiness and overall cleanliness are good. No one wants to live in a dirty environment. But my experiences of cleaning around the house – both as a single young man and later in marriage – have certain inconsistencies that are highly frustrating. Some cleaning jobs require far more effort than others, and I just don’t understand why.
For instance, there are cleaning tools in most houses that save much time and effort. Washing machines, dishwashers and showers come to mind. That’s right; showers count. Because cleaning your body is just as important, if not more so, than cleaning your house.
What I don’t understand, however, is the fact that of all these cleaning tools, only one (the shower) requires cleaning itself. I’ve never, in the history of cleaning, ever heard of someone needing to clean a dishwasher or a washing machine because of regular use. It’s almost magical in the way you can put a dirty dish, stained clothing or muddy towels into a machine and yet the machine itself doesn’t appear any dirtier because of it.
This is not so with the shower. Why is that? Apparently, our bodies are so dirty, our flesh so filth-ridden, that it causes rings, scum and even mold after just a few weeks of regular showers. Yet I’ve thrown sweaty socks, food-stained shirts and mud-covered shorts into my washing machine for years and the inside of the appliance remains just as clean as the day I bought it.
This travesty irks me to no end, especially when I must clean the shower – the glass door, the tub, the tile, the shower head. It is not easy and, of course, by the time I am done, I need a shower. This vicious cycle of irony should not be so.
But then, a few years ago, a certain item popped up on my grocery store’s shelf that intrigued me. I had been a shower cleaner my entire adulthood, but here, in the cleaning section between the laundry detergent and the little round discs that turn your toilet water blue, was a product called an “automatic shower cleaner.” These scrubbing bubbles seemed to be a divine gift of providence and grace.
The possibility of such an invention momentarily took my breath away. It was something that cleaned the shower AUTOMATICALLY! When I clean, I do nothing automatically. I procrastinate. I cut corners. I grumble and whine like a… like a… like a man cleaning a shower!
But this product promised to clean that same shower with the simple push of a button. I didn’t hesitate at the 25-dollar price tag or requirement to purchase expensive refill bottles on a regular basis. It was worth its weight in gold, in my mind. Other, richer people hire staff to clean their showers. I was hiring a machine! I quickly and eagerly placed my robotic employee in the shopping cart and made my purchase.
Perhaps you’ve heard that things are never as good as they seem, and if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Well, this product, which I named Rosie in a not-so-subtle nod to the robot maid on The Jetsons, worked. Rosie’s instructions, printed in English, Spanish, Mandarin and, I believe, ancient Hebrew, directed me to hang her from the shower head. Each day, after my morning shower, I simply pushed the little green button on the front of Rosie and a small, spinning nozzle sprayed “scrubbing bubbles” all over the shower. It cleaned, I didn’t and the world instantly became a better place.
But, alas, the story does not end there. I noticed after about two weeks that Rosie’s newness had worn a bit. In fact, she was downright dirty. I didn’t understand how this could happen. Like I said, cleaning is an inconsistent irritant in my life. Somehow Rosie’s base had a dark, scum-like substance stuck to it. The shower itself was spotless, a testament to Rosie’s efficiency and the fulfillment of her sole purpose in life. But, much to my disappointment, it appeared I would have to clean Rosie.
So, after only a few weeks, it became very clear to me that I needed something to clean the cleaner of its griminess – something that would clean the automatic shower cleaner. To put it simply: I needed an automatic shower cleaner cleaner.
This would not work. Why even have an automatic shower cleaner if you’re just going to have to clean the thing itself anyway? Other machines (washers, dryers, dish washers) don’t tease their owners in such a way, and I did not want to engage in the manual work necessary to clean the cleaner. The whole purpose of the machine was to allow me to avoid cleaning! No, instead, I needed something, a product perhaps, that would do the job with a push of a button.
It became glaringly simple. I needed an automatic automatic shower cleaner cleaner.
Alas, the scrubbing bubbles people have not yet invented such a device. It is my hope that, within the next year or two, I will see an automatic automatic shower cleaner cleaner on the grocery store shelf. I only ask of these cleaning manufacturers that they consider installing an added feature, possibly a self-cleaning option. Otherwise, I would soon be in need of an automatic automatic shower cleaner cleaner cleaner and, if I wanted this new device to work with just the press of a button, I’d need an automatic automatic automatic shower cleaner cleaner cleaner.
I can’t help but think that the cleaning companies may be purposefully orchestrating this vicious cycle just to further profit off of lazy people like me. If so, that’s just dirty.
But such is life. We are dirty. How are we, as Christians, supposed to deal with our dirtiness? Some people try to deny the dirt. Even if we don’t understand that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom. 3:23) our dirtiness is still obvious by the consequences of sin (both ours and those around us) that cling to us. We can try to scrub it off ourselves, hide the stains or pretend they aren’t there. But we all remain sinners in need of a savior.
There is no machine that can help – no automatic contraption to easily wipe away the grime. Only the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood on the cross could pay the price for our dirtiness.
For a guy who doesn’t like to clean and prefers an automatic fix, I’m grateful for a savior. But He’s no Rosie. He’s not my robot. He’s not my automatic cleaner, sitting around and waiting in the corner until it’s time to fix my mess. He’s so much more.
We belong to a God who introduces ways in which we don’t have to settle for a life of dirt. Sin does not win. Throughout scripture we have examples of very broken, very flawed and very dirty people whom God plucked out of the dirt and transformed them into His works of grace (see Hebrews 11). In our own church we’ve shared a variety of personal stories that testify to God’s faithfulness (see firstnaz.wpengine.com/nolifeleftbehind). Considering we’re surrounded by these examples, both ancient and modern, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
This summer, let us allow the Perfecter of our faith to bring about His redemptive work in our lives.