Phin gets about 3 baths a day. I am not even joking. The funny thing is that I don’t remember bathing Tyus and Eli so much, even though there were two of them and thus double the chances of dirt. I do, in fact, remember my mother and mother-in-law making comments when they were visiting like, “Don’t you think you should give the boys a bath tonight?” Why yes, yes, that is indeed a great idea. I should have done that a few days ago.
I cannot attribute Phin’s bathing schedule to an increasing concern for germs and cleanliness on my part, as those concerns have only grown more and more miniscule as our household numbers have been steadily on the rise. Just the other day I consciously thought, “There really is no need to wash these sweaty soccer socks, as they will just get sweaty again next week.” It is not uncommon for me to blow off food when it drops on our floor. And those are only a few of a myriad of examples of declining health standards in the Joseph household. Lest social services get wind of me, I will limit my examples.
Come to think of it, I have given up on bibs. They only cover a small portion of the would-be yogurt-covered child, so why even bother. Just take the kids clothes off and, in a regal declaration, “Let them eat yogurt.” This could be contributing to the rise of baths in my home. Otherwise, this phenomenon remains a mystery to me.
Needless to say, Phin is simultaneously dirtier and cleaner than my older crazies. But boy, does he love bath time. He lines up his four score and twenty ducks and has Narnia-like conversations with these, his little subjects. If they don’t do as he says, it’s “Off with their heads” as he flings them to the not-so-clean bathroom floor. If this is any indication of his diplomatic skills, here’s hoping Phin never becomes president.
The funny thing about baths is that you have to keep taking them. They work. They really do. But it’s not that one bath “takes,” insuring the state of cleanliness from now until next week or two.
I have been studying Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church, a group of friends incredibly near and dear to his heart. Goodness knows that these people were transformed by the gospel of grace. Paul had stayed with them longer than any other Christian community he helped plant. He had seen it first hand. He had seen them forsaking the wealth and stability of what was then the equivalent of the Swiss bank, struggling to make ends meet as they refused to worship at the famous Temple of Diana housed in Ephesus, the very center of the fiscally strong and materially wealthy Ephesian community.
Writing from prison more than a decade later, Paul takes time to remind them of their position in Christ and their possessions in Christ. They knew these things, Paul himself had taught them. And yet, time decays, life muddies and dirties the mind and heart. Just like my squeaky clean Phin quickly becomes a yogurt and milk-encrusted filet of stickiness and requires yet another bath only hours later, these struggling saints needed to be bathed again in the truths of the invisible realm. The wealth and stability of the pagan community encompassing them, they began to doubt the efficacy and reality of the riches of Christ which had initially seemed so obvious, so great, so glaring that they had easily left their false gods and false security for Him.
Paul spends half of his letter reminding them of these truths, bathing them with the realities of the invisible realm, far more real and beautiful than the Temple of Diana in their midst. How refreshing the water of these truths must have felt as they were, in a sense, poured over their hearts and minds.
Oh, how I long to be like Phin, being bathed multiple times a day, as often as needed. Washed from the daily residue of doubt and materialism and worry, washed with the unshakeable truths of who Christ is and who I am in Him.