A few weeks ago I was giving my infant son a bath in our kitchen sink. He was about a half hour overdue for sleep, and his eyes spoke of his weariness. Even though I knew full well he was hungry for the bassinet, I could also smell him from across the room. I got the bath temperature just right, and then I took his spit-up soaked onesie off. Immediately I received an unimpressed stare as the collar of the onesie fluffed up his greasy mane.
As I carried him to the sink his face rustled my shoulder as he fussed about. Slowly I dipped his toes in the water to prepare him for the warmth and wet. His limbs curled in displeasure, but the boy was filthy. Eventually he was immersed in the water, and I set about gently soaping up this greasy baby.
With each pass of the washcloth he would protest with a heart-breaking cry. This is a child who had just been fed, burped, and loved, yet he was inconsolable in the tub. In that moment I realized to a degree, how Christ relates to us.
So often when Christ is bringing me to be cleaned I am resistant and angry. What is sanctifying for my regenerate self is detestable to the sinful flesh. How many times have I lamented a trial only to realize days later the growth that God gave to me through it?
How much more tenderly does our Heavenly Father tend to us? How gentle are his Holy Hands as he suds us up for sanctification? Yet I sit there, often times, like a four month old crying and fighting because it is uncomfortable, or I am too tired for the work. I can only understand my current "trauma" I don't see my immature filth like the Father does. This is one of the wonders of parenting. I have in my hands, daily, a physical manifestation of my spiritual reality. In a very human and minor way I am able to exercise the role of Father and see from the perspective of The Father. I know what the purpose of the bath is, I know the bath will end soon. I know the bath will cleanse my son of germs, it will make his odor pleasing, and it will help him rest peacefully. I know he is loved, and his needs are met.
Yet, even in my position of fatherhood, how many times do I forget all those things? The sacrifices of my heart and flesh are pleasing aromas to the Lord. Though trials come, I am to rejoice through them for joy comes in the morning. Even when the Father dumps buckets of water on me, when I am not ready, do I remember his constant provision? I am often too soft from the countless blessings of food, shelter, and community. There is a beautiful maturity that comes from these "unwanted baths." And just as we mature to view the trials as helpful and glorious, so will my child grow to appreciate and understand his own personal hygiene.