Like it or not, when my alarm goes off each Friday morning, it has officially begun…
New to our family “traditions,” STINKY Friday was instituted through the back door by my 6th grade son after school began last fall. If you’re a parent, you may have noticed how much harder it is to rouse your sleeping students by the time Friday morning rolls around. It took about three weeks of middle school before the Friday phenomenon showed up on my radar, and I realized that no alarm clock seemed to be able to cut through the Friday a.m. fog.
I’m a slow learner, but one lesson that God has graciously allowed me to repeat many times is the one that says, “choose your battles.” I decided that making my son get up in time for a shower on Friday mornings was not a battle worth choosing, so I “unofficially” let it slide (to my son’s great joy). Upon hearing about this decision I had made, my husband coined the consequences “STINKY Friday.”
Ever been camping? By day #3 things can get pretty stinky.
Been on a plane lately? Not everyone who buys a ticket boards the plane smelling shower-fresh.
After days and days on the road, I imagine that things might have been pretty pungent for the Wise Men (they were traveling with camels, after all).
A by-product of travel is perspiration.
A by-product of perspiration is odor.
It simply goes with the territory.
The act of living produces a similar by-product, according to the prophet Isaiah. Just like body odor, which none of us is immune to (hence the full shelves of deodorant, body wash and cologne at your local WalMart), our words and actions contribute to what ends up being the Ground Hog Day of STINKY Fridays:
“All of us are dirty with sin. All the right things we have done are like filthy pieces of cloth.” Isaiah 64:6a (NCV)
Even our best efforts at living produce the inevitable by-product of stinky sin.
It simply goes with the territory.
The best remedy for body odor is a long shower and the help of some powerful antibacterial soap products.
The best remedy for sin-stained lives is the waters of baptism through the powerful Spirit of God:
“It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives.” Titus 3:3-7 (The Message)
God’s gift to Trek-weary travelers is a good bath in His sea of forgetfulness. Now that’s a star that I can follow.
Perhaps the best thing you can give away on STINKY Friday (and every day) is the active realization that all of us are dirty with sin. We can be the most diligent followers of Christ, the most purposefully generous of people, yet on our best day we are no better than mud-stained, grass-stained jeans. Our only hope for emerging from this life in the pristine white robes of the saints is to be washed in the saving blood of the once-child-now-sacrifical-Lamb of God, whose cleansing is offered without condition to all who have breath. No exceptions.
The life-giving work of the cross is God’s work, not ours.
On this STINKY Friday, let’s choose to embrace the level playing field of souls that are the men, women and kids we encounter every day. In light of the good bath you’ve been given, find a way today to share the sweet fragrance of restoration with someone whose own stain-removal efforts have failed over and over again.
By giving us back our lives, God makes it possible for us to reach out and guide others onto the path – this lifelong Trek to the Manger.