Before you have children, you are fairly grossed out by most bodily expulsions. For example, the thought of taking a damp cloth and wiping someone’s nasty little rear end is mostly disgusting. The thought of doing that five or six times a day is positively repulsive. What about pants that were peed on through the diaper that was advertised as being able to hold the entire contents of a whale’s bladder? Yeah, you touch those too, and yeah, no matter how careful you are, you touch a wet spot or two. Or three. And finally, the puked on shirt. It’s a miracle when the puke is only on the baby’s shirt! That’s almost reason to rejoice, mainly because that never happens. Babies are actually genetically engineered by God, to puke only when in close proximity to your cleanest garments.
If you’ve been blessed with children, you know you wouldn’t give your child back for all the money in the world! No amount of disgusting clean up could ever change how much you love your child. In fact, to the contrary, your capacity to take care of your child in their mess speaks volumes of your love.
When AJ was less than a year old, he was sleeping in his “big-boy” bed, and doing pretty well. One night, Traci and I tucked him into bed, and a couple of hours after we went to sleep, I was awakened by his cries for mommy and daddy. I told Traci that I’d take this one, so I got up and headed into his room. I was not prepared for the ambush that awaited me.
My little 12-month-old boy was sitting up, having just thrown up his latest meal. The room reeked of vomit…and what was that other sweet odor? Oh yes, he had clearly pooped in his pajamas, too. He did not look good, he was crying out and holding up his hands, begging for someone to pick him up. I just laughed. I told him when he got himself all cleaned up, I’d be glad to hold him, and then I went back to bed. “That little baby can take care of himself” I said to Traci as I lulled myself back to sleep.
Instead, I called for backup and then I moved in and picked up my sweet little sprinkler head. He began to projectile vomit all over the room as I held him and tried to comfort him. Traci came in and almost dry heaved (she was pregnant) at the smell, but she didn’t have the joy of feeling the warm sensation I was feeling on my arm as AJ was emptying his bowels and bladder onto my shirt. The little flu bug he had was hitting our city hard, and later we learned that children were experiencing “severe reactions including diarrhea, violent vomiting” and, apparently, “total loss of bladder control.” I felt like AJ’s personal toilet.
We finally confined his projections to a blanket, he stopped firing, and ultimately calmed down. We washed him up in the bathroom, dried him off and like most traumatic events in a child’s life, he went to sleep and forgot all about it, while Traci and I spent the next hour cleaning up his room. We used an entire spray bottle of F’breeze, excessive amounts of carpet cleaner and went through five or six towels getting everything soaked up out of the carpet. I started the nastiest load of laundry I’ve ever done in my life. It was well past the middle-of-the-night when we finished cleaning up.
When we were done, Traci headed back to bed and I went in and checked on AJ one more time. As I sat there thinking about him holding out his hands, begging for me to pick him up — I kid you not — I began to tear up. It wasn’t just the foul odor that still filled my nostrils (I should have shot a spray of F’breeze up there!) it was the reality of the moment, the clarity of what had just happened.
In the moment of distress, it didn’t even cross my mind, but as I sat there afterward it seemed so obvious. My poor son, desperate for help, crying out for someone to hold him while sitting in his personal filth, was me. In fact, it is you and it is anyone who has ever walked on the face of the earth, except One. We are born with a condition that makes it impossible for us to know God on our own. We’re like AJ, we have no capacity to clean ourselves up, but just like my son, when we cry out for help, God comes to us.
And here’s the thing — God doesn’t wait for you and I to clean up before He steps in. He doesn’t say, “You’ve lived a bad life, Joe. I’d like to have a relationship with you, but you’re going to have to do more to make me happy; you’re going to have to clean up your messy life and then I’ll hang out with you.” Instead He comes to me in my spiritual filth and offers a clean slate. He offers to do the cleaning, He just asks me to trust and follow Him.
I don’t know where you’ve come from or where you’re living right now, but I do know this: God is eager to help you clean up. He sees you for what you are, He knows all you’ve done, He’s been watching you puke, poop and pee your spiritual pants for years, and He’s ready to take you, just as you are. And once you enter into that relationship with Him, you become a son or daughter to Him, and the relationship never ends. Just as you could never do anything to begin the relationship, there is nothing you could do to end it, either.
I’m so glad God came into my life and cleaned me up. And I don’t know where I’d be today if He had abandoned me in those moments where I chose to return to my filth. But that’s the greatness of God, and truly one of the mysteries of His ways: He doesn’t leave us. We don’t deserve Him, we could never do enough to keep Him happy and pleased with us on our own, but He still comes to us. He still chooses to live with us, to take us in and always, always, offers forgiveness, hope and healing when we need it most. Somehow, in the craziness of the ups and does of life, He delights in us and loves to call us His children. Even though we never stop messing up our pants (hopefully we just mess them up less and less as we get older!), He never stops loving us.
Do you know His love? Have you come to Him and asked for a clean shirt? You can’t clean yourself up, so quit trying. You will never impress God with your own righteousness, so quit trying religion over a relationship. Instead, turn to Him in faith. Believe that He has opened a door for you through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and all you have to do is believe: Believe you’re stuck without Him. Believe you can’t save yourself. Believe that Jesus paid the price you couldn’t. Believe that God offers it freely to you.
You can’t live the Overboard Life without Jesus. He makes life on the water possible and remarkable!
30 down, 10 to go.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!