Scrubbed Up and Ready to Go!

Have you ever considered just how 'clean' your hands really are? In nursing school, I remember this exercise we did where we rubbed hand lotion on our hands, then were told to go scrub them to practice a good handwashing technique. Most of us were going the extra mile by scrubbing back and front, in between the fingers and then even up above the wrist area. Surely our hands were clean, right? We came back to the room for the 'inspection' of our handwashing jobs only to find our instructor had turned the lights off, had a black light set up, and inspected our hands under that glowing beast! Guess what else 'glowed'? Our hands! The lotion was 'laced' with this 'dust' that illuminates under the black light, allowing each of us to see the specific areas around cuticles, under nails, and even here and there on our hands that got totally missed by our good 'handwashing' technique! What we thought was clean really wasn't clean at all. Clean hands and a pure heart - two conditions we often proclaim we'd like to enjoy, but we might just find they are both harder to achieve than we'd like to admit. Our hands get "dirtied" by the things we do - the actions we take. Our hearts reveal their "soiled" condition by the words we speak and even the thoughts we entertain. 

Who may go up the mountain of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. He who has not lifted up his soul to what is not true, and has not made false promises. He will receive what is good from the Lord, and what is right and good from the God Who saves him. (Psalm 24:3-5)

The question posed - who may go up to the mountain of the Lord? Today we don't find ourselves making the journey to the holy city of Jerusalem in order to go to the Temple of the Lord. In the times of the psalmist, this was a regular journey for the worshipers of the Lord. In fact, there were regularly "scheduled" feast days when all of Israel was expected to gather in Jerusalem, bringing various types of offerings and a penitent heart. Each offering served a purpose - some to make "atonement" for sins, others to offer thanks for the tremendous harvest taken in from the fields, and others to just celebrate the greatness of God. Today, we think of "going up to the mountain of the Lord" as us going into God's presence, sitting at his feet, and worshiping him. Since the completed work of Christ at the cross, we all have this free access to the "holy place" of God's presence - we don't have to travel to some 'holy city' in order to enjoy that presence. Scripture declares we may come boldly into his presence, yet the majority of us might admit the "condition" of our hands and hearts give us a little concern in doing so - kind of like seeing the glowing 'black light' in nursing school!

Clean hands and a pure heart are not a one time condition. The ability to keep clean hands is impossible without frequent and thorough washing! Think about it - how many times in a day do you "physically" wash your hands? Why do you wash? Simple - to get rid of what "contaminates" those hands - hand hygiene is heightened when we are concerned about the spread of germs or viruses, especially during a pandemic! You desire they be clean before you eat, after you touch something that "soils" them, or just as "good measure" so you and your family stay safe. The same is true of our "spiritual hands". They need frequent washing to remain clean! Purity of heart is elusive if the heart is not continually touched by the great healer himself. In time, our physical heart will become "occluded" with all kinds of fatty build up and hardened by "calcified" crusts if we don't take good care of what goes into our bodies and what we do to keep our bodies physically fit. A similar process occurs when our heart is not continually renewed by the touch of God's healing. We begin to feel the "choking off" of the very supply we need in order to survive. We become hardened to the things which move his heart so freely. Our hearts need "tending" and "mending" in order to beat as his does!

He who has not lifted up his soul to what is not true and has not made false promises will enter boldly into the presence of God. Guess what? All of us struggle with getting a grip on truth - some of us more than others. All of us absent-mindedly promise things we have very good intentions of doing, but find the will to do it is harder than the intentions ever were. By the grace of God, we can enter boldly into the presence of God - not because we do all we intend to do, or hold onto truth as we should. It is by grace. It is as we "wash again", or perhaps as actually "washed again", and submit to the "purifying process" of God's touch we are made "clean" and "pure". No one struggles alone - we are all in the same boat of being a little 'less than clean' when it comes to our thoughts, actions, motives, and intentions! Maybe this is why God encourages us to look out for each other, spurring one another on in this walk of grace! We all need grace - renewing of our minds, cleansing of our hearts, and anointing of our actions. So, who goes up to the presence of God - ALL who are willing to be washed! We don't wash alone! There is a BIG "sink" in God's house - one in which grace runs freely and the 'scrub brush' of his love gets into all the corners! Just sayin!

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