You make the whole world smell clean.
I smiled at the Lovely Lady as I entered the room, amused at my own wit, and tickled at the confused look she gave me as she raised her eyes from the needlework in her hands. The clothes dryer rumbling monotonously back in the laundry room should have given her a clue to my puzzle, but she didn’t have the patience (or inclination) to work it out for herself.
Almost exasperated, she shot the question at me. “Whatever are you talking about?”
I laughed and explained.
Just moments before, as I walked along the sidewalk behind the house, my senses had detected the aroma, a combination of laundry soap and scented dryer sheets. It reminded me, not unpleasantly, of clean things—hands freshly washed, babies after a bath, clean towels after a hot shower.
The world doesn’t always remind me of such wholesome things.
Frequently, I run on the jogging path beside the local sewer treatment plant. It’s not at all the same.
The highway alongside the livestock sale barn on sale day? Yeah. Not the same either.
Sometimes, the world around us stinks to high heaven.
But, on wash day?
On wash day the back yard at my house is, literally, a breath of fresh air. The dryer vent on the back wall of the house fills the atmosphere in the vicinity with the smell of freshly cleaned clothes being tumbled dry.
It’s just hot air that’s been blown over the clothes to dry them? It’s merely what happens on any ordinary wash day?
Sure it is. I never said it wasn’t.
I just said she makes the whole world smell clean.
As I write, my thoughts are transported back over many miles and more than a few years. I’m still in a back yard and that clean smell is in the air. But this time, I’m surrounded on all sides by sheets and shirts, along with various other articles of clothing.
As I wander down one row and up another of the freshly laundered fabrics hanging on the clothes line, I marvel at the difference, not only in the air, but also the clothes themselves.
Moments ago the shirts were filthy, stinking rags. The fishing trip the other day was just the start. Hours of playing in the sun—riding bikes, chasing lizards, even climbing trees—had all taken their toll on the material. Dirt, fish debris, sweat, and perhaps even a little blood were all hopelessly embedded in the garments.
Now? Even the air around them smells clean.
This—this is a mystery.
Things that once were dirty and smelly now perfume the air around them.
How is that possible? If I found a piece of clothing in that condition by the side of the road, I would either pass it by or throw it away.
But someone, realizing the value (probably because they were the ones who had paid the price) of that garment, made the effort and spent the time to bring it back to pristine condition. The aroma emanating from the freshly laundered clothes was simply a by-product of the process.
It has, by now, become obvious that we’re not just talking about clothes anymore, hasn’t it?
Mercy picks the filthy rags up out of the gutter, while Grace washes them clean. The just washed aroma of joy makes the whole world around smell clean.
Once it did, anyway.
I stop and think about that for a moment.
I want to go on and speak of responsibilities and activities. I want to shake a finger under noses and wonder where others went wrong. I have blame to place and shame to impart.
Perhaps, I should pass.
Somehow, the air in my vicinity isn’t as fresh as I remember it.
It seems that it may be time for another visit to the laundry room.
As I recall, King David had to make that trip more than once. He asked for a clean heart and for a right spirit to be renewed inside of him. Knowing the result would be the joy that spread to others, he begged to be washed again. It’s all there in Psalm 51, if you don’t believe it.
I’d like to influence the world around me like that, too. Every day.
I have no question about my salvation. The grace of God ensures that. My problem is I don’t always act out that grace in my life. Forgetting who He has made me, I stink up the place—just like filthy rags.
I like wash days.
He makes the whole world smell clean.
Behave so the aroma of your actions may enhance the general sweetness of the atmosphere.
(Henry David Thoreau ~ American essayist ~ 1817-1862)
He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
(Titus 3:5 ~ NLT)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015, 2016. All Rights Reserved.