Recently I performed what I call the bi-annual shampooing of the carpet (kind of sounds like the running of bulls doesn’t it). Being that I have three levels to clean, this can be quite a daunting task. But what started out to be a mundane and uninspiring act of labor ended up being something entirely different. So I thought I’d share how this necessary, but totally boring, back breaking, monotonous job became inspirational.
First…it started with a need, because without that what’s the point right?! Then add a carpet shampooer, cleansing agent, water, and last but not least shear human energy (oh great thrills and rapture that would be me!).
As I ran the shampooer over the carpet all of the sudden the stains seem to become more prominent. I mean, it’s not like I was unaware that they existed (hence the shampooer) but honestly I didn’t think that they were as large, dark, as many, or as prominent as they actually were. I also discovered something else, they weren’t easily coming up. Instead, they were being resistant, uncooperative, stubborn…and an absolute pain in more ways than one (oh my aching back!).
While I continued to work on a particular stain, I noticed to the right of it was a brand new one! Oh it wasn’t very big but none the less it was there, and in spite of exercising my memory cells well beyond their capacity, I couldn’t recall how it got there!
Now at this point in the story, I would be remiss not to state that I am not one who ignores a spill. When an accident occurs on the carpet, I am quick to sop it up and give it a good ole scrub. But a strange phenomenon seems to occur a couple of months later – what I thought I had eliminated – time reveals that I had not.
So there I stood in the middle of a wet carpet, holding onto the end of a dripping nozzle, somewhat exasperated and discouraged, when a thought hit me. A thought that caused me to look at the stain in a totally different way.
Have you ever noticed how old carpet stains seem to resurface? If you are anything like me, you’ve tried just about every product on the market that claims to eliminate all stains and odors no matter how old they are…f o r e v e r. At first it appears that their claims are correct until about six months later when all of the sudden that old stain show up like a lost penny. So much for – f o r e v e r.
So just exactly what is a stain, this blot that invades my carpet? Well that’s relatively an easy question to answer. It is a discoloration produced by a foreign matter which has penetrated into another matter. The stain producing matter leaves the marks of its residue behind, forever altering the design of the original matter. Key words – penetrate and alter.
- Penetrate – to pierce or pass into or through, to enter and diffuse.
- Alter – to change; become different or modified.
So while I stood on my wet carpet the thought that came to me was that sin has the same effect on the soul as a stain has on a carpet. Sin penetrates, sin diffuses (spreads), and sin alters. Any attempts that I make to cleanse myself from the stain of my sins are futile. At best I can conduct myself in a morally accepted fashion, for all the world to believe that I am “clean” but nevertheless, the stain of sin is still there hiding slightly under the surface and sooner or later it will be revealed – exposing the blemishes of my soul. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter what caused the stains on my soul any more then it matters what caused the stains on my carpet. The fact is that it is there and its evidence is ugly and in need of being removed. It has penetrated my soul and in so doing altered my relationship with God.
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. Isaiah 59:2
Bad news: I can’t clean or scrub away the stain from my soul. No matter how diligent I try.
For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God–not by works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8,9
Good news: I don’t have to. Someone else cleansed me and scrubbed away the stains on my soul.
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14
All this is great news right? Well it doesn’t end there. Just like knowing which machinery and cleansing agents I need to attack those stains on my carpet, it isn’t until apply them that the cleansing begins.
Not too much is different in accepting what Christ did on the cross to cleanse me from my sins. Simply knowing that he did this isn’t what cleanses my soul. It is acknowledging that I have sinned and stained my soul (I am a sinner) and ask God to forgive me, turn away from my sins, and accept His cleansing agent – His son, Jesus Christ who took onto himself my stains (sins) in exchange for His righteousness (stainless). Now when God looks upon me he doesn’t see the stains on my soul anymore, but only the pure white fabric of His son’s righteous.
Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18
So who would have thought that the mundane, boring task of shampooing my carpet would turn out to be a object lesson. I will never look upon those carpet stains with disgust anymore. Instead they will serve to remind me of the priceless gift that rids me from the stains that are on my soul f o r e v e r.