I was doing laundry the other night (big surprise there) and I was thinking (even bigger surprise!). My wonderful dh is very patient when it comes to his laundry, he never complains how long it takes to get his shirts ironed. I appreciate that more than he will ever know.
Now, I like to iron. Really I do. There is something about the instant gratification of watching the wrinkles disappear that satisfies my OCD. I enjoy seeing the material smooth out and become fresh looking. I know, I'm weird; I am okay with that!
Well, this last round of ironing I got to thinking about sin and the parallel between it and the wrinkled clothes in front of me. You don't see it? Let me explain.
I have this shirt on my ironing board that is of no use to anyone. It is wrinkled and looks awful. My dh wouldn't wear it because it would make him look bad at work. It would reflect badly on him and give an impression that he does not want to give. I can either discard it or I can take the time to iron it out and make it useful again. I decide to iron it; clothes don't grow on trees you know!
As the iron heats up, I turn the dial so that the iron will emit steam in short bursts while I press the material. Not too much, but just enough to force change in the material. If I don't know the material I am working with, I can ruin it. I smooth the shirt out on the the board making sure to keep the shape of the shirt so that it will look right when I am done.
When the iron is hot I gently glide it across the material slowly so that the material gets hot enough to relax and change. It is not a quick process nor is it without its share of frustrations. If the wrinkles are stubborn, the steam gives an extra boost of heat as an incentive to change. After time and patience, the shirt is in usable condition and looks beautiful again.
Now, when we sin, we are like that wrinkled shirt. We are not usable in our present condition. If we are confessing Christ and wear our 'dirty, wrinkled rags' around, we are not giving a good impression of what Christ is like. We are sending the wrong message. We must confess our sins and present ourselves to God for change. Take off the wrinkled rags and let Him iron them out. You've heard of the Refiner's Fire?
Well, my dhs shirts are not going to magically become un-wrinkled hanging in the closet and they are not going to be presentable if I try to hide them. They are going to require work and heat and pressure to change.
Neither am I going to change without pressure, heat, and work. My life/clothes are as filthy rags and the only way they will be presentable is if I let God use His Divine heat to apply pressure to my heart and force the sin out. Now, I'm not saying that God is forcing the sin out, it is my choice, but if He is going to inhabit my heart then sin has no place and should be sent packing. The only person that knows me well enough to apply just enough pressure and heat without destroying me is the One who made me. He knows what I am made of and how much pressure I can withstand. He also knows how much heat to apply to get my attention and cause me to change. My heart will be presentable and usable again because of the love and attention from a Holy God.
Does it last forever? Unfortunately no. We are sinful creatures and fall prey to our own desires, but we can always come back to the fire and be pressed, heated up, and changed to be more like Christ.