Some time ago I went out for a walk and it was quite late as I began to near home again. In fact, it was starting to get dark and so I took a short cut across some fields and a stream to end up in the woods at the bottom of our road.

Being winter-time the stream was full and so I tried to walk across a fallen tree but I slipped and fell backwards head over heels into the slimy, filthy water right up to my neck! – I even ruined my mobile phone. – I couldn’t believe how wet I was in such shallow water!

Completely drenched from head to toe and covered in mud, jelly-like-orange slime and pondweed; the shock of the near-freezing cold water literally took my breath away. I cried out to God asking Him to help me, and he did because I managed to clamber out. – (Interesting: Psalm 40v1-2 says: ‘The LORD… turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.’ – I knew one day I’d find a sermon in there somewhere!)

Totally drenched and somewhat bemused, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at my predicament and the way I looked. Utterly humiliated I stayed in the shadows, hoping that no one would see me as I crept up our street leaving a trail of pond water and yucky-orange slime behind me; shivering uncontrollably, my teeth chattering with cold, and the dirty water in my boots making squelching noises with every step. Uurrgghh… I looked like the swamp monster emerging out the darkness!

And when I did finally get home, to the back door, Suzanne wouldn’t let me in; she wouldn’t let me come traipsing in all over her freshly cleaned kitchen floor. Instead, she had to strip me off outside and scrub me down first before she would let me step inside and be comforted.

Likewise, before we can become a part of God’s kingdom, we need to be stripped and washed clean; we need to be forgiven. Mankind can no more enter the presence of God than a germ can take a bath in a bowl of bleach! No matter how clean or good we are or try to be, we can never meet God’s standard by ourselves. We need to be cleansed, washed, forgiven. We need a mediator. We need a Saviour; we need Jesus to forgive us and cleanse us.

R. Ian Seymour