A Lesson from a Sewage Plant

There are few experiences in my life more clear and unforgettable than the time I visited a water treatment plant across the street from my High School. I had experienced its smell every time we got a west wind that blew from the plant to our school. I remember my biology teacher thought it would be beneficial for us to see how our toilet water was cleaned and filtered back into nature. The most vivid part of the whole experience was not watching the clean water or the chemicals. The great and nauseating moment was when we stood feet from the waste water. We all moaned and groaned as we inhaled the ghastly fumes of waste. It was in that moment that our biology teacher made the remark of the day… “get over it, it’s the mess you made.” The point was clear… we all contributed to the mess, and someone had to clean it up.

Tonight as we come to look at the last part of Samuel’s farewell speech in 1 Samuel 12, we see the people react to the faithfulness of God and their unfaithfulness. It is in this moment that they say “we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” They got the picture, by asking for a king they rejected God. They understood clearly the mess that they had made. In this, though, Samuel communicates clearly one of the central truths about our God. He states “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.” The simple truth that Samuel shares is that God is not a vengeful God who desires for us to stay in our messes. It is his heart and his purpose to pull us out of the messes we make and wash us. Ultimately this is seen in him sending his son to die for our sins. Where we have sinned and made a mess of ourselves and this world, God has washed us by the blood of his Son. Today for us who live in Christ we live clean because of the grace of our God.

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