When my daughters were small our family often went camping.
It was important to camp near a crystal-clear stream so we could have a source of drinking water and bathe once in a while. These ice cold streams were fed by mountain top snow fields. Bathing took hours—a few seconds for the actual bath, a few hours working up the courage to touch that frigid, icy washcloth to the skin.
But the hardest part was the rinse.The rinse involved pouring a pan of the ice-cold stream water over my body. This would make even a Southern Baptist dance. We always knew when someone was rinsing because of the scream. I never screamed, but I sucked in enough air to cause an oxygen shortage on the mountain for several days.
The girls hated high country bathing—partly because weren’t into near-death experiences, but mostly because of the modesty factor. I argued that in all our years of camping, never had a stranger, friend, or relative dropped by and said, “Hi, how are you?” during a stream bath. One day, exhausted from hiking I walked several hundred yards from camp to take my own bath. I knew a secluded place where a beautiful stream ran just at the edge of a high mountain meadow.
I looked out over breathtaking mountain splendor and braced myself for the rinse. Covered only with biodegradable shampoo and soap, I closed my eyes and dumped a large pan of freezing water over my body. I whooped with exhilaration, scooped up another pan of water—and heard the unmistakable snort of a horse.
My eyes flew open. Ten horses had emerged from the forest and were walking past me on the trail not thirty yards away. I could only stand sheepishly as ten riders stared off into the valley pretending they’d seen nothing out of the ordinary. But I knew different. I was close enough to see their shoulders shaking with laughter, and I could see the fear in the horses’ eyes. As they disappeared into the forest on the other side of the meadow, the last rider turned and waved. I did not wave back!
I made the mistake of telling my family. From then on, the girls and Diane bathed with their clothes on.
So what are the life lessons learned in those moments standing clean and refreshed in the unspoiled beauty of God’s creation?
- First, it feels so good to be clean—to know that the sweat and grime of the day are gone. It’s like being born new again.
- Second, it feels so good to be alive. Trust me: If you have any doubts that you’re alive, a quick dip in a snow-fed stream will convince you. The sound of your screams tumbling down the mountain will convince every other living thing.
- Third, it’s so thrilling to stand in the midst of so much evidence that God is alive. The innocence of the awesome unspoiled wilderness reminds me of what the creator intended for our lives to be; spotless and spectacular! God knew what he was doing when he designed mountain streams. His son called the forgiveness he offers us “living water.”
When you drink of that forgiveness, you’ll know the refreshment of being totally clean. No mountain stream can match it. When you discover the hope and purpose He brings to your life, every nerve in your body comes alive. Dive in and be cleansed; drink deeply and live.
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17).
When have you felt new and clean?
Do you remember bathing before tubs and showers existed?
What is the coldest bath you ever took?