I knelt down to unzip my suitcase, grateful to finally be home after an excruciatingly long journey from India to West Michigan.
Exhausted from my two-week mission trip, all I wanted was a hot shower and some clean, warm pajamas. However, as soon as I lifted the lid of my suitcase, my nostrils were bombarded by a wretched stench. Immediately, I was transported straight back to the slums of India, to the myriad of odors and aromas that had become my constant companion, encroaching far too closely on my personal space.
Though some were tantalizingly delicious, the majority of the smells I had encountered in those fourteen days were less than appetizing. Now, in the comfort of my own home, I was faced with the realization that these pungent scents had traveled with me halfway around the world, and I was not impressed.
Too tired to think about laundry, I impulsively stuffed every article of clothing into a black garbage bag, closed it with a tight knot, and set it on the floor of the garage, just outside the door. My plan was to get a good night’s rest and tackle the putrid grossness with some spring-scented washing powder and fabric softener in the morning.
The next day, I woke up refreshed, relishing anew the comfort of my own bed. Pulling open my dresser drawer, it’s emptiness reminded me of the black bag that awaited me. If I wanted clean clothes, I was going to have to make my way to the washing machine fairly quickly. I opened the door to the garage, and found … no black bag.
Oh, that’s sweet, I thought to myself. My mom must have started my laundry for me while I was still sleeping.
I walked to the washing machine and found … nothing. Confusion settled on my still sleepy mind. I went to find my mom to solve the mystery of my missing dirty clothes.
“Mom?” I asked. “Have you seen that black bag that was in the garage?”
“Yeah,” she answered nonchalantly. “I put it in the garbage and took it out to the driveway for the garbage truck.”
I started laughing.
“Did the truck come yet?” I asked, hopeful that there was still time to rescue my wardrobe.
“Yeah, it’s come and gone already,” she answered, still unaware of my predicament.
“My clothes were in there!” I said, still laughing at the hilarity of the situation.
“What?!” she exclaimed. “I had no idea! I’m so sorry! Oh, I feel terrible!”
Needless to say, a trip to the nearest department store became the top priority on the “To Do List” of the day. I had to replace fourteen days’ worth of underwear, socks — everything.
Believe it or not, it’s not the first time I’ve gotten a whole new wardrobe. Looking back on the incident, I’m reminded of the way the Lord Himself took away my dirty, repulsive rags and gave me a brand new wardrobe. On the day I became a Christian, He gave me clothes of white, free of stains and blemishes. But unlike the new wardrobe that I had to buy after the garbage truck incident, the wardrobe I received from God came free of charge. No cost involved; I only had to accept His free gift of salvation.
Now, when God looks at me, though I still wrestle with sin, He no longer sees the dirt and grime within my heart. Instead, He sees the perfect sacrifice of the sinless Christ, covering me completely.
True, there are definitely times when Satan hangs a garment in front of me, trying to entice me to buy it. But no matter how appealing it may look on the outside, it is guaranteed to be moldy and infectious on the inside, filled with germs and lingering odors. Whenever this happens, I need to remind myself of the spotless robes offered by Christ, and wrap myself in His garments of grace.
It’s illustrated best in the second verse of the beautiful hymn, “Before the Throne of God Above.”
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
What a privilege to be counted free, to be pardoned from sin, and to be given a whole new wardrobe, free of charge.