I love to travel, which is a good thing, because I’ve been traveling all my life. My father’s air force career kept me traveling with my family all through my childhood. In my own adult life, I’ve been traveling to countries across the oceans for 35 years. I love trying new foods, adapting to different cultures, listening to various languages, and observing God’s beautiful creation in every country.
In some of my travels, especially when spending numerous days in the mountains of Central Asia, taking a hot shower is non-existent. Often, changing clothes on a daily basis is also non-existent. These things are all a part of cultural adjustment and adaptation. I have learned, and maintain, that keeping a good sense of humor, helps to get one through these unusual situations with greater ease. Also, travel adventures make great stories, so plunge right in and enjoy cultural differences to the hilt!
As much fun as I might have on my traveling escapades, I confess that, on the return home, I start envisioning the hot shower awaiting me! Oh, how good I know it’s going to feel; hot water — endless hot water, flowing all over! Oh, and to put on fresh clothes that are clean and smell good, too! Now, wouldn’t it be absolutely strange if, upon taking and enjoying, my longed for hot shower, instead of putting on the good-smelling, fresh clothing, I put the dirty ones back on? Would that make any sense at all? Of course not! It would not only be strange; it would be foolish.
Knowing that such an act would indeed be a foolish thing to do, why do we sometimes do that very thing in our spiritual worlds? There comes a time in our lives when we realize what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross to pay the price for our own sins. Realizing that, we accept His gift of salvation, through a prayer of repentance and thankfulness for what He has done. Then, He washes us clean; and not only that, He puts within us a new heart, as Paul affirms in II Corinthians 5:17, “Those who have become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old is passed away, and all things have become new.”The becoming new means that Christ puts within us His Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us; to give us strength to actually keep on our clean clothes. It’s the only way of true joy.
Why then, comes the question again, do we pick up our old, dirty clothes, stepping back into the world from which we have been freed? As Paul reminds us in II Corinthians 4:7, although we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are also still trapped in our earthly bodies. We are troubled and perplexed, face difficulties, suffer physically, and are tempted on every front to, indeed, put our dirty clothes back on. What can we do?
It’s all a matter of focus. When we fall down, don’t lay there and focus on the failure; look up and focus on the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Focus on the truth of I John 1:9 that promises us, “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” Remember, too, this wonderful promise found in I Corinthians 10:13, “Remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.” Isn’t that an exciting promise?
Therefore, if you find that you have gone and foolishly put your dirty clothes back on — don’t stand there and smell; ask the forgiving love of Jesus to dress you again in the new clothes that He died for you to wear. Did you know that, when Jesus dresses you, you are, as it tells us in II Corinthians 2:15, “…a fragrance presented by Christ to God…a life giving perfume.” Now, that’s a beautiful reason to get rid of those dirty clothes.