"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
In all of my 25 years on Earth, I have never been a part of a household owning a dish washer. (Gasp!) At the end of most every meal, I stand over the sink watching the water stream out of the faucet, mixing with the slimy dish soap to create the soft, fluffy stacks of bubbles that will cut through the grease of the day. I have dish washing down to a science, all based on which dishes need to be stacked in the drainer first versus which ones will leave the most residue in my water. I always flood the bottom of the sink with silverware, letting the forks and spoons and knives soak in a bubble bath underneath the plates. Despite the extra time the utensils are treated to in their pre-soak, there is always at least one pesky little piece that just won't let go of its stuck-on food. I can wipe and scrub and scratch and dip, but in the end, I have to shove that little fork or spoon back into the soapy water to let it soak even more.
This past week, I ran into this problem with a spoon spotted with grit residue. Oh, those cheesy, buttery grits had been delicious coming off that spoon at breakfast, but now in the aftermath, they were just an annoying problem, keeping my spoon from being its clean, effective self. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed and...well, you get the point...but only bits and pieces broke apart, washing away down the drain. I sent the spoon back into its pool, washed another sink full of dishes, pulled the spoon back out, and tried again. Rinse and repeat. Finally, after almost every other dish was clean, the little spoon and I had one last tug of war, and with the help of my steel wool pad, I won! The spoon was clean!
Often, our lives are like dirty dishes. We fill ourselves with things we think are delicious, but at the end of the day, all we have is chunks of disgusting leftovers clinging to us. We attempt to clean ourselves off, and sometimes we succeed in removing bits and pieces, but we are still not clean, still not fully restored to our intended state. It isn't until we apply the steel wool of the Lamb of God that we find ourselves without blemish.
Through God's gift of Christ, we can be restored fully and completely despite how dirty we appear. Sometimes, like with my spoon, it doesn't happen all at once. Sometimes, it takes several attempts before we can release the leftovers of the past, but one thing is sure: God's Word promises us that we will be made new. He promises that He will complete the work He started. If you find yourself struggling with stuck-on, greasy residue, simply take yourself to The Dishwasher, and remember the spoon: it may take several attempts, but you will come out clean!