To Bathe Or Not To Bathe

Saturday, April 5, 2003

1 Peter 1:13-14 – You must therefore be mentally stripped for action, perfectly self-controlled. Fix your hopes on the gift of grace which is to be yours when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not let your characters be shaped any longer by the desires you cherished in your days of ignorance. (NEB)

My grandson, Tim, is nine. He often spends part of his school vacations with me, so I was delighted when he asked if he might visit during his mid-winter break. Tim's parents, however, warned me to prepare for battle, as Tim was going through a stage in which he adamantly insisted that he did not need to bathe or brush his teeth regularly.

As Tim and I talked about his upcoming visit, we discussed ways to make our time together enjoyable and free of confrontation. Our compromise included following his rules one day, and mine the next. In addition, we agreed to try to understand each other's logic and reasoning regarding personal hygiene.

On the first day of Tim's visit, he asked if we could follow his rules first, and I agreed. He stated that he wasn't going to bathe or brush his teeth, because "I did that yesterday." "Okay," I replied. Later, he asked if we were going to do anything fun. "No," I said, "we can't go out because we'll be offensive to others." The second day when Tim awoke, he asked if he had to bathe and brush his teeth. "Yes," I said, "today we are following Grandma's rules." Then he asked, "If I bathe and brush my teeth, may we go to the Children's Museum?" "No," I replied, "we don't need to go to the museum today because we went there the last time you visited me." On the third day, we reached a new agreement. Then on Sunday, Tim told several of my friends at church that he was having a good time. "Actually," he said, "Grandma is spoiling me!"

Reflecting on our time together, it became clear that the learning in this situation was not one-sided. I wonder how many times we, as Christians, have used the logic of a nine-year-old to justify our behaviour to God. How many times have we used the "I've already done that" excuse? Then, when we place our reasoning side-by-side with the teachings of Christ, we reach a new understanding. Then we discover that God, too, spoils us when we become obedient children, and give up the desires that once shaped us in our ignorance.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your Son, Jesus, and for His teaching. Our ways are indeed not Your ways! Thank You for loving us and for always welcoming us with open arms. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

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Judith Welch <>
Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

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