Saturday dawned bright and beautiful. It was the perfect temperature to work outside and I took it upon myself to clean up my back patio. Unfortunately, you can’t help but notice the gas grill if you are out there. I am not one to clean my gas grill every year, so I knew it was in desperate need of attention. I was also pretty sure that it wouldn’t be a high priority for my husband anytime soon. So I went inside and googled “How to clean a gas grill” (yes, I realize that shows just how infrequently I have cleaned my grill!) I found some good information and, armed with instructions encased in a sheet protector, went outside to get started. I put the grates in a big tub of soapy water and then started scrubbing the main grill. And rubbing. And scrubbing. Maybe a vacuum would work better. I pulled out my little handheld vacuum to suck up the debris on the bottom. Some of it came up and some of it was so glued to the bottom from greasy residue it didn’t want to budge. I stood and stared at the dumb thing. What to try? I got a magic eraser. Aahh…now that was working…a little. But, oh, the effort that took just to show a tiny glimmer of the old silver shine. I worked at that for about a half hour and then decided that it was foolish to clean it perfectly, as it would end up back the way it was after a few weeks of grilling, anyway. I instead turned my attention to the grates soaking in the tub. I had less success with these than I had had with the grill! I could hardly rub even a small area to a silver gleam.
As I scrubbed, I couldn’t help but think of the parallel to the Christian life. I could try to make myself as clean as possible, so as to stand pure and righteous before God, but I could never “scrub” my life enough to make myself completely white. There would always be sticky, greasy, stains and large blotches of black, no matter how much effort I put forth. It gave me good insight into why Jesus had to die for my sins in order for me to be saved. His sacrifice enables me to stand white and pure before God, because He took my punishment. I had never thought of it like that before. Praise filled my heart.
And then my thoughts turned towards living life. So, if Jesus makes me white, why bother cleaning up my life at all? Kind of like the grill, my best efforts to clean up my life don’t really amount to much. I might get a corner cleaned up over here or a small piece of the grate shining brightly over there…but I will never be able to come even close to perfection. Again the question–why bother?
Of course, we are to live godly lives because we love the Lord (I John 2) but could there be another reason? As I contemplated this, I realized that cleaning my grill makes it work better. It is more efficient and burns cleaner. It grills the food better and it looks nicer. Sure, I can’t get it perfect, but my efforts are still not without their rewards. Our lives are like that, too. Sure, we won’t ever make ourselves perfect. But following God’s commandments will lead to rewards in our lives here on earth. And just like my dirty grill said something about me (laziness or too busy, perhaps?); so our lives, if we claim to be a Christian, say something about God. What does our life say about the Holy God we claim to serve? Isn’t He and His reputation worth giving ourselves a good “scrubbing” for?
And, unlike my solo task of scrubbing that grill, we have help with cleaning up our lives. God sent the Holy Spirit as our Helper (John 14:15-17). Isn’t that an encouraging thought? We do not have to work at this alone.
As I finished cleaning the grill, I can’t say I was filled with a great sense of accomplishment. But, surprisingly, when I pulled everything back together, it did look a lot cleaner than it was before. My efforts did show. Life is often the same way–while we are in the midst of change we can get discouraged and lost. But if we keep working at it, we will come out on the other side saying- Yes, I can see a difference. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better!
Isn’t it amazing what you can learn while cleaning your grill?