Friday, November 7, 2008

Clean Laundry

Roger Barrier tells a story of when he went off to college. His mother had always done his laundry, so created a canvas laundry bag for him and provided a brief bit of coaching: "Put your dirty clothes in the bag each night, then wash them at the laundromat at the end of the week." So, at the end of that first week, he went to the laundromat, tossed the duffel bag in the washer, added some soap, and started the machine. In moments, the washer began to thump as its unbalanced load rocked the machine. A young woman saw what was happening and approached with this gentle advice: "I think the clothes would get cleaner if you took them out of the bag."

Mr. Barrier makes a great parallel to confession. How often do we bring our sins to God like a lumpy mass still sealed up in a bag? When we confess generically, we give little space for God to work in our hearts and purify us not just from sins committed, but from the very sinfulness that leads to such actions. We are not to wallow in guilt, but to bring our brokenness out into the open and allow God's grace to reach into the folds and seams of our lives. Then we can emerge fresh and truly clean again.

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