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13 August 2009

Things That Stink - Story One

When someone comes to Christ, he is to leave his old ways behind and take on the new nature -- the nature of Christ -- as he moves forward. (Let me clarify that the separation from the old happens after we come to Christ -- trying to become good enough to merit God's favor is an exercise in futility.) Romans 12:1-2 is one of the many wonderfully straightforward passages on this.

Unfortunately, many of us choose to not completely leave our old ways behind, because, let's face it, some of those ways are just so darned fun. And this following Christ bit...? It sounds like we won't get to do much fun stuff along the way, so we'll need to pack a little bag of the old to take with us, just in case we're right.

But any retention of the old things of self really messes up the new things in Christ.

I like Irish Spring soap. (Even rendered that sentence in green in its honor.) I love the original flavor, not Aloe scent or Action Sport or whatever thing they've come up with now to compete with other brands. Just plain ol' Original Irish Spring soap. And yes, I'll guarantee that it has a flavor, although I've not tasted it; I've only smelled it.

Having said all that, I used to like Irish Spring soap more than I like it now. Matter of fact, only nine days ago it was like soap utopia to me (Usoapia? or maybe Soapri La?) -- a blend of perfect smells. Now, though, this soap is more along the lines of, "It'll work but I don't love it." Here's why...

I took my hallowed Irish Spring soap to Haiti when our team went last Tuesday. I reasoned that if I were going to a place where I'd stink of B.O. because of potential sweat issues, having along the perfect soap would at least make a fresh, clean dent in the smell. For a couple of hours, anyway. That proved to be true! But here's the rest of the story...

Sarah the Haitian Mission Team Guru noted on our first day in Haiti that we needed to take "Haitian showers." This is how I'd render the step-by-step process of taking a Haitian Shower:

  1. turn the non-heated water (that's all shower water) on
  2. get wet
  3. turn the water off to soap/shampoo
  4. turn the cold water back on to rinse. Sure, you can turn on the "hot" water, too, but it won't really matter because it's the same temperature as the "cold" water.

Given this, I new right away that typical showers in Haiti are different from typical showers in the USA.

Because of this mental note, when I saw standing water in the bottom of the shower stall on the first evening, I reasoned that Haitian drains were typically backed up due to lack of USA-like plumbing. I was thinking, "Wow, this is disgusting" as my foot went into the standing water. I repeated the process daily, and since the water for washing in Haiti actually doesn't smell terribly good, the standing water really didn't smell good. Every day I'd grab the soap and think, "Irish Spring, help me out here," and it would always offer me a respite from the bad smell of the water at my feet. Every little break from the smell was good.

It wasn't until day eight, I think, that I found out that Haiti has a problem that the USA has. It's called "hair is stopping up the drain." That's a disgusting problem to fix, but it takes all of 30 seconds or so if the hair is close to the surface of the drain. I'd taken every single shower under the assumption that I could do nothing to fix the standing water problem. It could be that the hair thing just amplified an existing drainage problem, but I hadn't even checked. I felt silly.

I got home a little after midnight on Wednesday morning and took the long, hot shower I'd been looking forward to. The problem was that when I grabbed the Irish Spring and smelled it, I immediately mentally "experienced" the smell of dirty standing water. Yep, it's true. Now the smell of Irish Spring takes me back to one of those not-so-special-smelling times in Haiti.

The standing water represents the old nature of a believer. Irish Spring represents the Holy Spirit. After we "commit" our lives to following Christ but no effort is made to actually repent -- not just to move forward with a new outlook, but to intentionally remove the old things -- the experience (dare I say "experience"? I can't think of a better one here) of new life in Christ is horribly tainted. So tainted, in fact, that the good things that He gives us may be scarred because of the old things we wouldn't let go of.

I can think of a number of real-world examples of this principle. How about you?


Preston N said...

This sorta of reminds me of an analogy of two people who wish to quit smoking. Lets say you have two people who wish to quit smoking. Both have smoked for years. The one person is quiting because his wife and kids have nagged him to quit for years and as a result he has decided to try and quit. The other person has grown to hate the way smoking makes them feel and look. He hates coughing morning after morning and all the money he has wasted over the years. He not only hates his smoking but he loathes himself in how he has allowed this nasty habit to affect his life.

So which of these two do you think will be more successful in overcoming there nasty habit? My point is this is we can try to quit sinning but we will never be successful until we hate and loathe our sin.

Christy said...

That was profound, and my favorite most favorite of all your analogies (hope you don't mind my saying so).

. said...

DEAN! I love this. Lovely break in the monotony of another night here. It's raining again. The water still smells yucky. But soap analogies...wonderful.

Went on the river walk today, then drove into PAP and experienced the downtown sights. Wish we could have gone with you all there!

Did Rachel e-mail you? She said she would!

Saw Julia off this morning - what a sad day!

Dean Lusk said...

All, thank you for the comments!

I was hoping that this would come across in the way that it made sense to me. I think it did.

., (since you didn't put your name I think you wanna go incognito), I got Rachel's e-mail and replied, but I haven't heard back from her. About to ping her again.

We got to get Julia back, so we were happy. Bummer that there are no longer any cool people down there for you to hang out with, though. :-)

Keep us posted at FB on your travel plans.

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