I did it again, and in the worst way possible.

I tossed a pair of red shorts from the cottage in with a wash of fluffy new wine-colored towels. As soon as I opened the lid to take them out, I knew I was in trouble. I hadn’t checked the pockets, and had obviously left a couple of tissues in them. Now there were a thousand small white bits firmly lodged in the fibres of the towels. It took me half an hour of laborious picking to get them out.

This is not the first time it’s happened, and sadly, it probably won’t be the last. While it’s fresh in my mind, I’ll be checking my pockets carefully. But as time fades the annoying memory, I’ll slip up again at some point, and that will serve as yet another reminder.

The experience made me reflect on our human tendency to revert to ways that seem easier, but end up harder; our need for ongoing reminders to check our pockets for things that may not be obvious, but need to be removed. This is one of the big reasons that spending time in Scripture every day is so important: we need constant reminders of God’s will if we’re going to avoid reverting to our own ways of doing things. We pick up a lot of grime in the world around us on a daily basis, making a washing in the Word a necessity.

Paul told the Corinthians to “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.” (2 Cor. 13:5) One way to do this is to check what’s in our pockets; what we’re still carrying around with us that shouldn’t be there if we’re going to be washed in the Word. A few verses earlier, Paul had said he was afraid he would be “grieved by many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.” (2 Cor. 21) If I try to be clean before God but am keeping some things I haven’t repented of stashed away, I’m going to be left with a mess at the end of the wash cycle. Those unrepented sins will pollute everything else I’m trying to clean up, the work I’m trying to accomplish. What wasn’t obvious before the washing, God can make painfully apparent after.

This too is part of God’s mercy. If I’m not taking the steps I need to in addressing my sin, He will let me experience the consequences in his desire to bring me to repentance. God knows that this is ultimately for my benefit. If I’m not being honest with myself, it affects all my relationships, and especially my relationship with Him. He tests us and wants us to test ourselves to see if our walk matches our talk.

My prayer is that my heavenly Father will help me to check my pockets of holdovers from doing life my own way, and remove what doesn’t belong before it pollutes my walk with Him. I want to come to Him empty of me, so I can be filled with His Spirit.