Friday, February 10, 2012

Getting Thrones White as Snow

It's not every day I get to clean a miniature throne.

Probably because I've never had kids.

And just to give you fair warning:  yes, I'm talking about the other kind of throne than what a monarch uses.

Of course, I clean my real toilet regularly, but this morning - and I hope this isn't TMI - I was scrubbing a little wooden antique throne that I used when my parents were potty-training me.  You see, my mother is getting some things ready to donate to our local historical museum, since my parents' house is full of antiques from their old house in upstate New York, and my brother's family and I really don't want most of this stuff.

Like the diminutive wood chair with a hole carved through the seat.  It's hand-made, about two feet high and one foot wide, with an arched back, two sides with sloping arms, and a space under the seat for a miniature chamber pot.

Years ago, Mom found it someplace in the old farmhouse she and Dad purchased near Syracuse, New York, and it was an odd find, since there hadn't been kids in the former household since the previous century.  Dad had been transferred upstate from Brooklyn, and the Lord had lead my folks to a rambling monster of a place chock-full of old furnishings left behind when its previous owners retired and moved to Florida.  They had grown tired of all that old stuff, and didn't take a bit of it when they made a clean break to their tropical, modern tract house.  Coming from a three-room city apartment, however, my folks were thrilled to purchase a six-bedroom fixer-upper completely furnished.  They didn't care that its furnishings were woefully out-of-date.  Most of them were so well-made that they still had years of service left in them.

Actually, there had been two of these antique potty chairs, but I don't know what happened to the other one.  This model that Mom kept she'd painted herself, since when she'd found it, it was raw wood.

How painful that must have been for the poor kids who'd had to use it before my brother and I did!  The hole, a marquis cut, had been crafted in a rather crude fashion, and although its edges had been sanded, my Mom took special care to lavish multiple, thick coats of paint especially over this particular part of the seat, for obvious reasons.

So anyway, as Mom was now looking at the throne her sons had used all those years ago, she noticed that some particularly colorful spots had begun to show through her aging paint job.  And I shouldn't have to be graphic about the nature of these colorful spots, except to tell you that my Mom is a fastidious cleaner.  I can guarantee you that this throne was not only cleaned regularly when it was in use, but before she packed it away, she'd given it an extra-thorough scrubbing.  Again, for obvious reasons.

Still, the discoloration was unmistakable, and the more we thought about it, it seemed kinda gross, so I offered to see if I could clean it with some bleach.  I took a Clorox wipe, doused it with unadulterated Clorox bleach, and went to work.  I even got a pair of tweezers to get into cracks in corners and where the wood surface was uneven.

After a while, I managed to reduce the appearance of the stains, even in some areas to the point where they didn't show anymore.  Yet on other parts, particularly the seams where the wooden seat had been attached, the telltale color refused to disappear entirely.

Apparently, old wood and lead paint don't give up their stains easily.

My nose was burning from the bleach fumes, even though I had the window open and a fan going.  And then it hit me:  not a fainting spell, but the analogy between what I was trying to clean away and the sins in our lives.

Please don't assume I'm so spiritual that I'm constantly finding spiritual analogies in daily chores.  Maybe it was the Clorox seeping into my brain that made me start pondering the intangibles of salvation, but the song, "sin had left a crimson stain" started running through my mind.

When she had given this throne it's last scrubbing (let's just say it was more than four decades ago), Mom obviously thought she had eliminated all of the stains and unpleasantries one normally associates with this type of apparatus.  Knowing how she cleans, I'm sure she looked it completely over one last time, just to make sure it was beyond sanitary.  Yet here I was, all these years later, cleaning away the stains Mom thought she'd eliminated the first time.

Our sin is like that in our heart, isn't it?  Before we receive the cleansing grace of Christ, we can try to scrub it away, and it can look pretty good when we're finished, but the sin isn't really gone, is it?  It may appear hidden for years, but eventually, it starts making an appearance again.  Frankly, no amount of cleaning may make these spots completely disappear.  If it wasn't for the antique aesthetic of this throne, the only way to try and make sure the stains stay hidden would probably be to sand it down, apply a wood sealant, and then paint it a darker color.

Spiritually, that's what God does, isn't it?  Kinda, anyway?  Granted, he doesn't actually scour the chambers of our heart with celestial bleach, but He washes us clean with the blood of His holy Son, Jesus Christ.  In fact, if I washed our old white throne with blood, it would end up kind of a pinkish color, wouldn't it?  But Christ's blood actually washes us "white as snow."

Whiter than this old throne is now, after I spent thirty minutes going over it with bleach.

Do we really appreciate how vile our sin would be in God's eyes if we weren't already washed by the blood of His Son?  Yet His blood purifies us so completely that we can stand in the presence of God Himself without any residual spot or blemish from sin.

If I can't get this antique throne clean enough to present as a donation to our local historical society, we're just going to throw it out.  But once God claims us through the finished work of Christ through the power of His Holy Spirit, there's nothing more to be done.  No more scrubbing.

How ironic that bleach can't get things as white as Christ's blood can!  And in fact, that God's throne, the one from which He rules and reigns all of creation, and the one from which He rules my life, is undefiled.

C'mon, and sing it with me:  "Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow!"

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