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clean again

“The things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.  These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

– Matthew 15: 18-20


I want to feel clean again.

There are some days, days like today, when I can barely look myself in the mirror, when it hits like a ton of bricks that I have undeniably added to the pain and harshness of this world (in my thoughts and in my actions, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do).

Today, I tried to reach out to God and though I sensed Him yearning also for me, my mind felt so twisted up in the thorns of my own sin that it seemed to me that the True Light Himself was being choked out.

I want to feel clean again, truly clean.

I want to remember what it must have been like to be a child, to be able to talk with God and not feel like there is this dark, clotting, obscuring wall of I’m not sure what between the two of us.  I want to feel like there’s nothing terrible gunking up my life anymore.

I want to feel clean again, to pull off the blinders that I know are keeping me in the dark.

I woke up this morning and began to pray and I felt something big and strange and real in the way of me connecting with that Ultimate Reality.  I felt my own faults, my own sin, staring me in the face, like a gulf of darkness, making me feel unworthy to approach my own Father.

I want to feel clean again.  Pure.  Unblemished.  Healed.

White as snow.

In a truly beautiful song, Marcus Mumford of the eponymous Mumford and Sons asks such a question of us:

and can you kneel before this King

and say “I’m clean, I’m clean”?

I am acutely aware that I cannot, in good conscience, kneel before the Lord Jesus and say (and honestly mean) “I’m clean.”

I want to feel clean again, as immaculate as a white blank page.

And in the end, I think I’ll get there.  I have to believe that.  God promises that in the very end, amid judgment, there will be strong, pervasive grace.  There will be generosity, forgiveness, mercy.

Our God promises to leave the glory of the castle to track down the one lost sheep that has strayed from the flock.  He wants to bring her back home.

He wants to make her clean again.


In the Hebrew scriptures, the prophet Isaiah tells Israel that the Lord wishes to reason with her, to reconcile their differences.  He says “though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

Some time later, in a letter to a group of Christians living in the Greek city of Ephesus, a man named Paul says that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”

This is the God who dares to look prostitutes in the face and tell them that they are virgins in His sight,

who welcomes them to join His bride.

This is the One who keeps insisting He has this crazy power to make us clean again.

To wash our sins away.

you've been remade

But as I was standing in the shower today, letting the hot water run over my face and washing the grime off my body, I couldn’t help but think to myself…am I really going to be okay?

Can this Jesus really make me clean again?

Because if this Jewish rabbi really was the Son of God, if he was telling the truth when he said that he had the power to forgive sins and make us whole again, it has huge implications.

Maybe the problem is, despite Evangelical insistence, getting washed clean isn’t just a one-time thing.  Maybe it’s like a shower, like a car wash, maybe we need to keep faithfully asking to be forgiven.

Whatever the case may be, God is not afraid of our muck.  We don’t need to hide it from Him.

We just need to let Him get to work.

And I know that, by the grace of God, one day I will honestly be able to kneel before the throne and say “I’m clean.”


8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Emily Otnes #

    This is beautiful Ryan, I know exactly the feeling. I literally know exactly what you’re talking about. Sin feels like the most overwhelming thing in the world and it seems so impossible to forgive, but God wants us to be close to him. The reason sin is so painful is because it’s a separation from God that we ourselves create and then regret. By admitting that we and our faith are not perfect, we see that God loves us despite of it and sent Jesus to make us clean forever!

    February 5, 2013
    • beautiful, Emily, thank you for your comment. I am glad you understand. God loves his children and his bride so much that he himself DIED for them. And though our sin so often clogs our ears and blinds us to true love, we worship a God who is in the business of making all things new (Rev 21:5) including us and the rest of this broken world 🙂

      February 6, 2013
  2. Amen Ryan, I had my own bout with my sin on Tuesday, and your right it is hard to look myself in the mirror. But praise God, he love me so much, he can wash away that sin. It’s true you have to keep asking and God is faithful and just to forgive ~ 1 John 1:19. So Ryan confession is a beautiful thing. I just need to hate my sin more that way I won’t do it, and stop coddling my sin, with justifying it.

    February 8, 2013
    • thanks for the comment, Shazza. something I’m starting to learn more is not only to hate my sin and its consequences but to LOVE Jesus way more than I love my sin 🙂

      1 John 2:1-2 says “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. BUT IF ANYBODY DOES SIN, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (emphasis added)

      May this comfort you, sister!

      February 10, 2013
  3. DL #

    John 13:8-9
    Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

    The context shows a guy who is first reticent to allow Christ to wash him because he is focused on his own spiritual condition rather than on who Jesus is. He doesn’t feel worthy, knowing that he is ‘lower.’ But Jesus reminds him that he can’t help himself. Then he wants thorough cleansing. If you keep reading however, you find that Jesus helps him get a balanced outlook for who he is in Christ. This is key: it’s not about who we are, and it’s not really even about recognizing who God or Jesus is (the Devil’s believe and tremble), it’s about our relationship with each another. How have we interacted? Do we walk together?

    Adam and Eve walked with him until they tried to help themselves.

    Enoch walked with God and God took him.

    Throughout Kings and Chronicles we find out who pleased God based on whether or not they walked with him.

    Amos (3:3) expresses this when he asks, “can two walk together unless they agree?” Some translations insinuate that the agree indicates direction.

    God tells us how we can be clean–through accepting his Word.

    Psalm 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

    John 15:3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

    We have to consciously choose the blessed way, rather than the cursed. The blessed way is walking according to his Word.

    David’s cry in Psalm 51 gets him back to turning from his own (cursed) way and agreeing to God’s way.

    Though we do our part in walking with him, ultimately he promises to do his part–and the relationship rests on his character, on his promise.

    1 John 1:9
    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    Jesus is the WAY (the truth and the life!)

    Enjoy your clean life! Thanks for sharing these thoughts. Best,

    February 11, 2013
    • thank you so much for these words, and for posting them here from our other conversation. I am so blessed by the scriptures you share here today. What a beautiful message. It’s not about how dirty we are, or even about who the abstract “God” is. It’s about our relationship, our walking together. Thank you, this has meant more than you know. Happy Valentine’s day 🙂

      February 14, 2013

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  1. so I have a confession… | A Real Rattlesnake Meets His Maker
  2. a public confession | A Real Rattlesnake Meets His Maker

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