You can tell a lot about people by the way they do their laundry. I have friends who have certain days they designate as “laundry days.” I confess, I’m probably much more impressed by that than any grown woman should be. My laundry days? They usually happen on whatever days I realize I have to make a choice: I have to wash a load, or I have to be one of those people who goes to Wal-Mart in pajama pants.
I’m further impressed by my friends who go the extra mile, laundry-wise. They…are you ready for this?…pretreat. They do it like it’s this normal thing that people do. But do you know what pretreating is? It’s doing laundry before you actually do the laundry. There’s something remarkably intentional and impressively diligent about that.
I have other friends who go beyond even that and carry one of those pen-things so they can pretreat even before a stain makes it to the laundry room. They’re essentially doing laundry before they’re even home. It borders on laundry lunacy.
It probably won’t shock you to know that when I’m having dinner out and hot fudge drips down my sweater, I’m not thinking about laundry. You know what I’m thinking? Fudge. And if I scrape the fudge off my sweater, it’s not a pretreatment. It’s a fudge salvage.
Some people do laundry with great forethought. I do laundry with great afterthought.
Of course, there’s regular forethought. And then there’s the forethought of God. His is a whole different basket of laundry. We’re told in Titus 3:4-5 that “when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us,” (ESV). How vital it is to stay intentional and deliberate about remembering His planning of our salvation. That passage continues, “not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (vv. 5-6, ESV).
No kind of laundering would ever make us clean enough apart from that “washing of regeneration,” the saving work of Jesus Christ. We can’t do enough deeds, attend enough services—we can’t pray enough, or pay enough—to earn what is freely given by His mercy.
I know what you’re probably thinking. This is an oversimplified, everybody-already-knows-it, fact of the faith. Yet how many times do we overcomplicate the Gospel? It’s just: Jesus. His amazing, pre-thought grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8, ESV).
Even those of us who’ve been around the Christian block a few times need to be reminded to trust His grace. It’s easy to get off-track, concentrating on all the “good” we might be doing, forgetting the One we’re doing it for. Embracing our own lack of ability to do anything of lasting value is at the same time embracing His ability to do more than we could ever imagine. And that’s something we need to embrace anew every day.
Incidentally, there are also things I’ve embraced about my lack of laundry finesse. A spot on a sweater? It doesn’t really mean a laundry fail to me. It means a new sweater.