Windshield Wipers for the Soul
Several weeks ago I was driving to work in the morning and a very light misty rain was falling. It was so fine that I didn’t even feel the need to turn on my windshield wipers for several minutes. But as I got about 3 miles down the road and began to pass through a small neighboring town, I realized how that fine mist had now grown into gradually larger droplets which now altered my view, causing me to turn on my windshield wipers.
This got me thinking. Have you noticed how easily it is to have our senses dulled and lulled to sleep over time in such a gradual way that it is essentially imperceptible until something drastic causes us to realize what we have been missing?
For example, years ago, when my family and I were walking through a large parking lot towards a movie theater, either my wife or one of my sons handed me their glasses temporarily so they could do something with their hands. I had very good vision and never had any type of glasses or contact lenses in my life, but as a joke, I put them on to see if my kids thought they made me look smarter. And a miraculous thing happened… I could suddenly see! I had always thought I could see just fine, but once I put on those glasses I could suddenly see, with incredible clarity, all the details and crispness of things I had never know I had been missing… for how many years now, without even knowing it?
These memories were jolted into my mind today by another unsettling incidence which happened while I was running an errand in town. My wife was out of town today, so I had decided to go catch a matinee to pass some time. As I pulled up in the large theater parking lot in, right there in good old Rexburg, I noticed as reached over into the passenger seat to grab something, that in the car parked right next to me, a young couple was engaging in an open act of fornication in the reclined passenger seat of their small car, right there out in the openness of the public parking lot!
Stunned, I quickly looked away in shock. In a state of disbelief I sat there staring straight ahead for a moment, when I witnessed another site. Directly in front of me across the aisle of cars a minivan pulled up with a CTR bumper sticker and a young husband jumped out and ran around to open the door for his wife. They both then ensued to help their two young beautiful children out of the car and holding hands began walking towards the theater.
The contrast of these two complete opposites happening simultaneously right in front of me couldn’t have been any more clear. As I got out of my car I gave a sharp blast on my horn, resulting in some flailing arms and legs in the car next door, but I didn’t care to look and simply walked away, pondering upon the situation, which seemed connected in my mind to my episode in the rain and with the borrowed glasses mentioned above.
The married couple with the two children now entering the theater ahead of me were smiling and laughing and genuinely happy. Their obvious choices to enter into a relationship through the bonds of marriage had resulted in a type of lasting love, peace and happiness, which was starkly different than the lustful, selfish act which had been taking place behind me. What was the difference? How had one couple chosen a path of real happiness and deep, abiding, meaningful love, while another had been tricked into thinking that a brief satisfaction of their desires would result in anything good at all?
To carry out the original analogies, I guess we could say that such mistakes are made because we fail to turn on our spiritual wipers as often as we should. As we try to journey through this life and its mists of darkness, our spiritual vision begins to gather particles of sin which, like mist on a windshield, begin to could our view without our even knowing it. If we are not careful, we begin to adjust to this failing vision, much like I had those years ago, thinking that my vision was just fine. We literally cannot see what we are missing and cannot clearly make the appropriate, clear choices as a result. Each of us is guilty of this to some degree or another.
"Satan seeketh to turn their hearts away from the truth, that they become blinded and understand not the things which are prepared for them." (D&C 78:10)
After my matinee, as I began returning to my vehicle, the same car was still parked there beside mine, but now with no occupants. I shook my head with sadness over the event, and wondered what the couple was now feeling now somewhere inside the theater. Were they having any remorse for what had happened or were they still ignorantly unaware of what true love really means, and what it takes to actually achieve it?
As I pondered these thoughts while approaching my car, I also noticed the shiny, clean and polished pickup truck parked next to my car, which I realized was covered with a fine layer of muddy film. I either hadn’t really noticed this before until it came in comparison to the well-detailed truck at its side or I had chosen to ignore that the muck had been forming for some time, and had simply become accustomed enough to it, that it didn’t bother me. I left the theater and drove straight to a nearby car wash as I pondered over all these things.
As my car went approached the wash, several young men surrounded me and pre-scrubbed with brushes before I continued on through the washing and scrubbing cycle, and as I thought back about the misting rain being swept away by my wipers, I considered something else.
As we go through life, even when and if we notice the film and muck of life accumulating on us, or that our ability to see clearly has been gradually impeded, there is nothing we can do about it from inside of the car. It takes an outside cleansing force to wipe clean the filth we have accumulated. But we have to be the ones that choose to turn on the wipers from within or drive the car to the wash.
In this life, we are the drivers of our own destiny. We are the ones behind the wheels of life which carry us along. No matter how shiny and clean we desire to be, travel through life accumulated dust, dirt, film and misting curtains of obscurity. And there is only one source to which we can go to become clean. We must activate the cleansing wipers of the soul called repentance. And the more often we realize and turn those wipers on, the quicker our vision will become clearer and allow us to stay on the right path.
Sometimes the filth become so thick that deep and more rigorous cleansing is needed. The scrub brushes need to come out, and sometimes, like those young men pre-washing my care, we need the help of others, such as friends, family members or ecclesiastical leaders to prepare us to better to approach the Lord from a proper frame of mind to receive the full benefits of His healing and purifying atonement.
But forgiveness, clarity of vision, and spiritual cleansing doesn’t happen on its own. We can’t simply say that stopping driving through the mud will somehow make us clean or think that the droplets of rain on our windshields will suddenly evaporate. We have to ACT to turn on the switch and make the appropriate turns of the steering wheel that will take us to where the cleansing powers are offered.
Repentance is not a passive process, but an active change in the nature of our hearts and minds. We must ask Him for the ability to see as He sees. He is with wiper which then clears away the film to show us a more clear reality to what is around us. The essence of repentance is a change of the mind. It means a willingness to give up our own flawed ideas and instead develop the mind of Christ, and through His eyes see the world clearly, to have a different frame of true reference in His revealing light.
It is this changing of the heart and mind which then allows us to truly change our behavior in any lasting manner.
And even once our hearts and behavior change, we still need help to become cleansed from the filth we have already previously accumulated. And just like going frequently through the wash or turning the wipers up to a higher more frequent speed when the rain is falling, the more often we repent, turn ourselves in the proper direction, and become clean through the power of His atonement, the more clearly we will navigate the roads ahead.
And the even greater news is that even for those who may have strayed and crashed their spiritual vehicles off into the ditches of life, like that couple next to me at the parking lot, cleanliness is still possible through the Love and Healing Powers of Jesus Christ! No matter what others may think or the accusing stones of judgment we sometimes even throw at ourselves, there is always a way back and a way to become clean, forgiven and get a fresh start once again! The devil would have us believe that all is lost and so what's the use in trying, but that simply isn't true and the biggest deception of all in his arsenal. The Lord always desires us to come to Him and ask for His healing assistance.