Thursday, November 6, 2014

Muddy Theology at the Car Wash

This morning (the first day of November and the first cold morning in sunny Florida) I went outside to find loads— and I mean loads—of bird poop on my car. I washed the driver’s side windows and what I could reach of the roof. A couple of dollops remained on top. I went inside, washed my hands, and grabbed my keys for a quick trip (if there is such a thing) to Walmart. But then I noticed the milky goo I’d attempted to wipe away with Windex was now a large white circle. I’d done nothing but redistribute the mess.

The poop had to go. The wind chill factor seemed much lower than ever before for this time of year and I wasn’t about to fetch the hose and spray freezing water into the wind. So I got in my car, went right on past Walmart, and turned up the radio for the ten-mile drive to the Super-Wash. But just a quarter-mile down the road, I passed a church offering a free car wash.

I pulled in. Now, this was not my church. This was, well, the kind of church that brings a true believer to recall II John: 10-1l:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. (ESV)                                          

The verse gave warning in my mind as pulled in to a parking lot filled with shivering boys, and some men who would surely use my dirty car as an opportunity to share their message. But I wasn’t receiving them into my house—I was just letting them wash my car. I let down my window for the smiling man who greeted me. Okay, he greeted me. I figured I was still in compliance. I asked if I could remain in my car because of the strong breeze and the low temperature.

He motioned to the tent behind me. “Wouldn't you like to come and let us tell you about the Gospel?” he asked.

I hoped my pastor didn’t drive by. Or anyone else I knew. “I have a clear understanding of the Gospel,” I kindly told the man. “But thank you.” Then I sat in my car while several teen boys and a couple of the men washed away the poop and the layer of dust that comes from living on a country road.

One boy asked the man who’d greeted me, “She doesn't want to know about our beliefs?” An answer was whispered too softly for me to hear. “What does she believe?” the boy asked.

When the washing was done the greeter came back to my window. I lowered it again and told him with a strong but friendly voice that I’d heard the boy’s questions. I explained that my faith is built solely on the grace given to sinners by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is nothing else. Nothing.

He nodded. “We believe in Jesus and we respect what you believe,” he said. “Have a nice day. Goodbye.” He motioned me to hurry out of my spot and I did. But there was no car waiting behind me.

Pulling to the street I gave a quick glance in my rear-view mirror. Was washing cars a wicked work? I saw no sense judging the workers. They were just as lost as the neighbors I passed when I left my house, as messed up as the people spending Saturday morning at Walmart. I sure didn’t plan to miss out on that experience.

I turned left, unconcerned about who might see me exiting the parking lot of apostasy. The Christians I hang with wouldn't think less of me for letting some lost kids wash my car. I thanked God for the chance to speak the truth in a place I never expected to end up when I pushed back the covers on my warm bed and dropped my feet to the cold floor.

I drove away in my shiny sedan—they did a fine job. I left them with some filthy rags and maybe a smudge of something sticky and white on their chilled hands. Thinking of the boy’s questions I prayed he might remember the lady with poop on her car, and what she said to the greeter at her window.


  1. Good for you. I would have spent the whole time arguing with the guy, and nothing of value would have been done. A good lesson.

  2. "Parking lot of apostasy"--great phrase :) And I love the way you handled it--with grace and truth.