Many people will recognize the title of today’s blog as a quote from E.B. White’s book, Charlotte’s Web, where Templeton the rat, brings Charlotte the spider, a side panel from a box of detergent with some writing on it. The panel says; “With new Radiant action!” The animals go on to discuss what radiant means and whether the term can be applied to Wilbur the pig. Of course the makers of the detergent were only talking about getting your clothes really clean. 🙂
Let me tell you a story of my own… So, my husband had a job where he got dirty, GRIMY dirty. His coat, which is a beige-y Carhart thing, is pretty tough. It can withstand a lot of punishment while he works but it was impossible to get clean….Until (and this is not a commercial), my mother-in-law told me a story about being a young bride and trying to get some old camping sleeping bags clean. They were washed and washed and washed (insert Bugs Bunny loop), but the grime stayed. Then, a little old lady (God bless them they are a national treasure!) saw her dilemma and took pity on my mother-in-law…..pity or something….and promptly told my mother-in-law to get her (the little old lady) a Coke from the vending machine. When my mother-in-law brought it to her, she opened it and promptly poured the entire thing into the washer with the sleeping bag. The cycle ran and the sleeping bag came out and went into the dryer and lo and behold it was clean!
Now, I am certainly a smart Alec and naturally skeptical about washing anything with a soda; but I also love my husband and didn’t want him to have a gross ruined jacket that wasn’t good for anything BUT nasty, grimy work. So, I gave the whole washing-the-coat-with-a-soda-added-to-the-regular-wash-cycle-along-with-the-detergent thing (deep breath) a try. Mind you, I wasn’t planning on holding my breath, ironically, or anything else cliched by overuse which is remotely similar to holding my breath. The coat was seriously dirty.
The whole situation reminded me of C.S. Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and I’m talking about the book here, not the movie. The boy Eustace is desperately trying to be free of his enchanted dragon flesh, as well as be relieved of a rather painful arm ring which doesn’t fit him now that he has become an enormous dragon. He finds a delightful pool in the forest and thinks it would be a wonderful relief to be able to get into the water. A fearful and glorious Lion appears at the water’s edge and tells him he must first be rid of his dragon flesh before he can enter the water. Eustace tries and tries, but no matter how he scratches at it, all he manages to do it to shed a couple layers of dragon skin, like a snake. At the end of all his efforts, he remains a gnarled, lonely, and wretched dragon. This is when the Lion steps in, strips off his enchantment rather dramatically, lobs him into the pool, and Eustace the boy is once again whole and clean and better than ever he was in all his life.
This scene in the book is a perfect picture of the story of Redemption. I know it’s not popular to talk about sin as sin. We like to rename it and call it our “shortcoming” or our “bad habit” or our “struggle” or our “weakness”. But as many of us have already realized, we are gnarled, lonely and wretched. We aren’t just quirky, we are deformed and fetid; and as far as we ourselves are concerned, there is no remedy. Then the Lion appears in our life, and if we allow Him to, He transforms us utterly and our life is never the same.
Psalm 34: 4-5 “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”
Still wondering whether or not that silly soda actually worked to clean that nasty jacket? It did. 🙂