When he walks through the kitchen with his hair showered clean but his face looking like that, I just have to laugh.
“What?” he says. “Really, I showered, Mom, I did.”
Levi stands indignant, hands on hip, and I nod half serious.
“Yes, Mom! It’s only my clothes that are dirty.” He’s been picking stones all evening out in the back field.
He’s a boy and doesn’t know it but he’s wearing half the field right there into the kitchen.
“I showered at the barn already. I just have to change out of these clothes.”
“Levi, son.” I lay my hand on his shoulder —
“You need to go look in the mirror.”
I can hear Levi laughing at the mirror at the back sink.
“Guess I didn’t get my face?”
“Guess I am still dirtier than I thought.”
I wink. And point to the shower. Levi chuckles, pulls his t-shirt off, heads to the bathroom.
I fold laundry. Still dirtier than I thought. I put another load in. Levi runs the shower.
Our hands are so stained with sin, that even our best works can leave traces of dirty prints. I shelve oil-blotted jeans.
Isn’t it true — Dirt is more than what the tabloids and town gossips can dish and it’s more than what we do — dirt is wound right into our DNA. It’s our make-up and there’s no make-up that can mask our mess and how our souls wrinkle in folds over the grime.
I might know that in my head. I don’t know what my heart knows. I can still think we’re pretty clean.
The water runs loud in the bath.
“The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist,” is what A.W. Pink wrote.
“He announces a Saviour from Hell rather than a Saviour from sin.
And that is why so many are fatally deceived…
there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.”
It’s more than our clothes and it’s right in our pores and are we all playing games here or do we want any of this for real?
3:30 am on a Wednesday and I am this mother sitting hunched in bed, knees pulled to the chin under white sheets, shoulders shuddering for a child. Sin can slither in silent under floorboards and the stench of it can make you wretch.
The bile in the back of my throat nauseates. I think I might be sick. I hold my stomach and weep and rock. The shattering of innocence can howl like a leaving. We’re all shards.
Sometimes you can keep the windows closed so tight, that when the tornado descends, the whole house explodes.
I wished we had opened a window.
We are all shards.
Like Job, the Farmer prays for our children. It’s more like this cry.
In the morning, I scrub too hard in the shower.
How can we get clean, how can we all just get somehow impossibly clean?
How in the world could we be audacious enough to think we were relatively clean?
The towels in the bathroom and all our righteousness look like filthy rags.
We pray more. The sadness of sin fills me at the stove and I brim. At the dinner table, the Farmer squeezes my hand and my chin trembles and I push back my chair from the dinner table but I don’t have the strength to stand up and I’m just bowed and bent. He doesn’t let go of my hand.
I want us to be delivered and cleaned and I want it for real. I need a Savior to save us from sin.
When the enemy slinks closer, the ragamuffins cling tighter to the Cross, and it’s the prowling lions that can drive us to the Lord. He can use even this.
This is the dialect of the dirty-bathed-clean and it’s what keeps me breathing and it’s all I can breathe: All is grace. I keep putting in another load of laundry.
It’s more than our clothes, our fronts, our masks.
Strange, what Spurgeon says,
“I do not know when I am more perfectly happy than when I am weeping for sin at the foot of the cross.”
I don’t know that I’m happy here — only that I know I am in the right posture here. God, be merciful on us, the sinners. A child weeps with me and I cup a face and we are not lost. He won’t let us go.
We are all shards in a mosaic of Grace.
I meet a woman who sells cars for a living. She tells me that white is the best color for a vehicle and I tell her we live in the country on a gravel road and white would never work where we live.
She tells me white is always the perfect vehicle no matter where you live.
And it’s on a Sunday morning after that Wednesday, standing in the door of our country church, when I notice how different the white vehicles in the parking lot look beside the grey pickups, the black cars.
It’s after communion, and I can still taste pure grace on the roof of my mouth. It’s after our filth before His purity has tore me open again and the tears had made their soundless way down and I had just held it, whitest bread.
A child had reached for my hand and there was pure grace and I had swallowed it down.
I stand at the church door, remembering what has been done in remembrance of Him who saved the worst of us, and I remember what the woman who sold cars said. She said, “White hides the dirt the best. It makes no sense, but white hides the dirt best.”
In Him, you are not your sin. In Him, you are not your dirt. In Him, you are hidden and your iniquity is made clean by your identity and your identity is in His purity — and when we are our worst, His white hides our dirt best.
So all the days of the week, I leave it out and open on the table here.
His Word, this grace —
an invitation on purest white pages.