As a parent, I’m sure you can commiserate with me. Permanent marker is not a 3 year old’s friend, and especially not a mother’s. In less time than in takes for my seventy pound dog to eat his breakfast, a 3 year old can make quick artwork on any item within a home. Permanent.
If you can guess, I’ve had it happen – except, it was on my wall in my office at work. Worse. Much worse. The only thing scarier than permanent marker at work is getting it on the in-laws walls. Yikes.
So, besides freaking out and melting into a embarrassing state of hysteria, I searched for every possible cleaning agent known to man. Greased Lightening (which can take off paint, but not permanent marker), Bleach (yeah, crazy), even The Magic Eraser. Nothing worked.
So the only thing to be done was…repaint the wall. After that, I got rid of all my permanent markers.
The wall looked perfect – the evidence removed. Only memory kept the marks clear in my head.
There’s a story in the Bible that reminds me of this. It takes place in Matthew 8 and revolves around some of the most ostracized people in the world. Lepers. The diagnosis of leperousy was catastrophic. It meant the person was removed from his family, friends, and all ‘polite’ society, so to speak, and had to live outside the camp of God’s people. It was humiliating to the point that anytime someone came close to them, they had to yell out “Unclean! Unclean!” to warn the approaching people. Even touching a person with leperousy made the uninfected person ‘unclean’ for a while.
A few amazing things about this story.
1. Jesus TOUCHED the leper
. Now, did Jesus need to touch him to heal him? No, but he did this to prove to the doubters and others that he would take the uncleanness of this outcast on himself. (as he would do on the cross)
2. Jesus did it ALL. The leper could do nothing to clean himself – no Magic Eraser could take the sores and scars away, but the Great Physician wiped him clean with one touch. Jesus willingly took on the ‘stigma’ of unclean by touching the leper. He was…and is willing. We can never keep the law in any way that completely satisfies God’s requirements. We MUST have grace. Our healing is all about Jesus.
3. We all have a type of leprousy. We are lepers of the heart. Our hearts are infected by the debilitating, corrosive evil of sin. With such an infectious heart, we cannot do good or even ‘see’ clearly. No amount of praying, working, boasting, giving, helping, singing, or learning will clean our hearts. It takes Jesus. For our impure, leprous hearts, he gives the ultimate cleaning. His grace. His sacrifice. His love.
And with the leper from Matthew, he looks at us with an ageless, eternal love and says, “I am willing. Be clean.”