You probably never thought about sanctification like going through a car wash.
The Psalmist says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
Car washes have become a lot more sophisticated than they were when I was growing up. Now you step out of the car and hand it over to an attendant. But the process is still basically the same.
I remember sitting in my car through the experience – kind of fun really. First, you are guided to align the car with the track that moves the car. Once you are in alignment, you put the car in neutral, letting go of the wheel, gas pedal or brake.
Then the car wash track moves you through the various stages: wetting down the car, shooting it with soap, scrubbing the car all over, going through a rinse cycle, then going through the drying cycle.
If there’s an attendant, they clean up any dirty places that are missed. You might even have the car detailed to get every speck clean.
It’s a process.
The Car Wash of Sanctification
I met with my pastor during a difficult time where I had a lot of questions. He listened intently and told me that I was going through the car wash.
There were things that I needed to let go of. Things that were dragging down my spirit.
I’m not sure if you experience this, but when I have a clean car, it feels really good! All the dirt and grime that’s accumulated is washed away. I swear the car runs better too.
In biblical terms, this car wash is called sanctification. It is an on-going process. Why? Because we’ve picked up so much gunk along the road of life.
That gunk can be limiting beliefs, shame, guilt, mistakes, poor decisions, no decisions, fill in the gunk blank.
Like tar you pick up from newly paved road, it doesn’t wash off. You have to put in a lot of elbow grease to remove it. It’s not fun and easy like going through the automated car wash.
This Cleaning Happens on the Inside
Unlike a car, where you can see the dirt on the outside, this dirt we carry is on the inside. You don’t see it, but eventually, if not dealt with, you start to feel it. It starts to nag at you.
Now that the entertainment distractions of life have been stripped away during this pandemic, maybe you are going through the car wash. That’s a good thing. It will be painful, but there’s a “clean heart and a renewed, right spirit,” awaiting you.
One of my favorite authors and theologians is Frederick Buechner. He wrote a powerful little book called Wishful Thinking – A Seeker’s ABC. In it, he addresses words from A-Z like Atheist, Guilt, Repentance, and this word, appropriately enough, Sanctification.
“But little by little – less by taking pains than by taking it easy – the forgiven person starts to become a forgiving person, the healed person to become a healing person, the loved person to become a loving person. God does most of it. The end of the process, Paul says, is eternal life.”
This washing continues, but through the process you begin to shine. God’s work and glory shine from within you. It’s more than the good feeling of a clean car. Beneath the gunk you find the treasure that is you. You also find joy.
If it’s difficult to find that treasure within you, God Notes – Daily Doses of Divine Encouragement, is a great tool to help you do that.