I stopped at the gas station this evening to get some gas. The gas light was screaming at me again. Like most people, I think, I try to ignore the gauge for as long as I can. But once the little gas pump makes an appearance on the dashboard I know I have to take things more seriously.
Usually when I get gas it's the same old routine. Push the button to release the little door where the gas cap hides. Unscrew the cap and let it freely hang off the side, turn around, swipe the debit card, and make my selection. Same old song and dance.
But this time I was at a place where there was more to be had than gas. There was also a car wash available. And when I swiped my card to make my gas selection I was first prompted to make a decision. Did I want a car wash as well?
After trying to remember when the last time my ride had a nice clean bath I felt ashamed that I couldn't recall it, so I decided to quit putting that off as well and selected the cheapest car wash available.
After I filled up the gas tank my receipt printed off, and at the bottom I found a code that would give me access to the car wash.
I pulled up, punched my digits, and off I went. One cheap, much needed car wash coming up.
Once inside I found myself lost in thought. The radio provided some background noise but my mind was concentrating on how the "touch free" car wash could actually get a car "clean". I had never used this particular car wash before and I was eager to see how good a job it did when all was said and done.
If you're like me you usually find yourself disappointed after you leave a car wash when you realize what all it DIDN'T clean. Even though I always choose the "cheap" wash, I still fill like my car should come out VERY clean. I guess you get what you pay for.
Eventually a green light in the car shower told me to pull forward. The wash was over. As I was pulling into the sunlight the inspection would begin. And once again, I was disappointed. There were still things left behind that didn't come clean. You can always tell it best when you look through the windshield and into the sunlight. You see the spots that still remain.
The inspection failed but my mind was still turning. That's when I realized how similar our spiritual walk is to a car wash.
You see, I think many of us go to church just to get "clean". Or to at least fill like we've gotten ourselves clean for that particular week anyway. I'll be the first to admit that I really have felt this way before. But every time I walked away, if I would have truly looked at myself as if trying to pass an inspection I would have seen that there was still many things, many spots, that were left behind.
I was fooling myself. Thinking that (me + just going to church = good), like (car + car wash = clean car) was a mistake.
You can't think like that. You'll fail the inspection every time.
You have to get down to the nitty gritty. You have to put lots of effort into it and maybe even shed some sweat and tears to get the kind of clean your soul really needs.
And that kind of clean isn't "touch free" or even "soft touch". That kind of clean can only come from the nail scarred hands of a saviour's touch. The touch of one who died to clean ALL our spots. Even the ones that are easy to hide but hard to clean.
Thank you Jesus for teaching me something at the car wash. You really are EVERYWHERE!