Several years ago, I traveled 4-5 days a week in my ministry work. It was fun the first few weeks, but after a while it was a daily grind. Airport, plane, shuttle, hotel, speak, back to hotel, rubber chicken and back to the airport and start all over again. After a long week of travel, I couldn’t wai to get to my home and take a long, hot shower. I wanted to wash all the travel off.
I recall boarding a plane leaving San Diego for Atlanta, and of course it was a red-eye, overnight flight. I boarded and took my seat, after about a two hour delay that would put me on the ground at about 6:00 am, with a 8:30 am appointment in Alpharetta. I thought it was going to be a nice, sleep-filled flight, with nobody next to me. But NOPE! I had a guy sit next to me that was equally as big as I was, had luggage and travel junk everywhere. He had a pillow, his computer, earphones and a sleep mask. I know what you are thinking. Perfect person to sit next to. He wasn’t frustrated with your size. He was planning on sleeping the entire way. What could possibly be wrong?
I’ll tell you what was wrong – He smelled like he hadn’t had a bath in a few weeks, after crawling through the Amazonian Rainforest in the middle of July…in a suit! I’m talking a wretched odor, so potent that the flight attendant was grossed out…really! As the plane took off, headed east, and my new seat neighbor settled in for a long flight, I patiently waited for us to reach the magical 10,000 foot altitude, got my bag down from the overhead bin and found my toiletry bag. I grabbed a can of Old Spice Body Spray and began spraying the completely oblivious fella. The flight attendant even helped. Problem solved – Kind of?
Sometimes, I think that our souls have a wretched odor from carrying around our sins and offenses. I know that my soul has been there. And I’m willing to bet that somewhere along the way, yours has as well. So, just how do we give our soul a good bath? How do we keep from needing our neighbor to spray us down with Old Spice? Clearly I am not the expert here. I’ve offended folks and wounded people to the degree that they have dismissed me from their life, considered me an aweful human being, and have a deep seated hatred toward me – all earned, by the way!
Here is a short formula for giving our souls a good bath. Not just a spray to mask our stinking sin and selfishness.
- Write them down! Literally, write down the known offenses that you need to get washed off of your soul. Write them so you can seek specific cleansing. Write them down with a specific goal in mind. That goal is to rid our souls of the pain, agony and hurt that we can leave in our wake.
- Ask the Divine to do what King David asked. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Clean it out – all of it. As the Divine does as we ask, He will reveal each and every offense or sin – Write those down as well!.
- Ask the Divine to clean them up by asking His forgiveness. Remember, every offense to someone has first been offense to the Divine.
- If possible, meet face to face and ask for forgiveness. If it’s not possible, write a handwritten note…but ask for their forgiveness specifically for the offense.
- If there is any restitution that is possible, offer it. I realize that there are times that you simply cannot…but always seek forgiveness.
- Recognize that this is an effort to take a SOUL BATH. A good SOUL BATH doesn’t require human forgiveness from the offended, it requires our human heart – broken before the Divine AND the person offended. Often times we take a season to build up the courage to ask, and very often it takes a season for them to truly forgive. It’s not our job to convince them to forgive us. It’s our job to ask for forgiveness, sincerely, earnestly and lovingly.
To take a good SOUL BATH, we need a repentant heart, a broken soul, a sensitive spirit and a willing mind. When we bring all of those to the party, we allow the Divine to scrub down our souls and wash them clean again. It’s good to know that He doesn’t spray us down with Old Spice and simply cover the sins and offenses with a better smell. There is nothing like a squeaky clean soul. I need one today.
I’m still working on my SOUL BATH. How about you?