In light of Labor Day weekend, I was reminded of something I had written down in my journal some time back. I don’t really consider myself a mechanic; I’m more of a hack when it comes to engine repair. The work I do as a signal maintainer involves machines with gears and relays, but I don’t deal with the internal combustion engine. My work involves DC electricity, some AC theory, and micro electronics. Still, my hands and arms do see their share of dirt, and grease, and grime.
I’ve noticed, and my beloved bride reminds me, when it comes time for cleanup, that some preparation makes the process easier. I’ve coated my hands with Vaseline petroleum jelly before changing oil on my personal trucks, and I’ve used hand lotion to keep my hands from getting cracked and chafed at work. Smooth hands are much easier to get clean; they don’t have as many cracks where the dirt and grease can get embedded.
As I discovered, or was reminded of, the smooth/soft hands are clean hands principle has a spiritual corollary. When I was reading Psalm 95 some time ago, I came across verses 8 and 9. These verses are referenced by the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews in chapter 3 of that book. Perhaps Paul also has this in mind in First Corinthians 10.
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
” when your fathers put me to the test, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
At any rate, it seems that a hardened heart is less likely to get clean, to get right with God. On the other hand, a softened heart is more likely to express the words of the Psalmist when he cried out, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)