The Nature of Soap
“Should I stick my hand in the toilet?”
That was the question I asked myself. It was Jeremy’s bar of soap. I had lost mine somewhere on the journey. It’s not like I’d been aiming for the toilet, everyone knows soap is slippery. He’d understand if I told him what happened.
We were nearing the end of the whirlwind thirteen-day, three-island, two-conference, worship mission trip in the Philippines. Jeremy, one of my closest friends, was a part of the team. He is a good mate to have with you on these kinds of adventures as he always brings enough toiletries to share – with me. Though I think his patience was wearing thin when I helped myself to his closely rationed Q-Tips.
In case you think I was taking advantage, don’t. I paid him back with beef jerky and Gold Bond powder. Honestly, I was surprised he hadn’t thought to bring either.
We were in a small church building constructed of mismatched pieces of plywood, sheet metal, and cinder blocks. The little church crowded a narrow road on the side of a volcano and was hemmed in by other ramshackle buildings, farmer’s fields, all surrounded by dense jungle.
The toilet was in the corner of a room downstairs. Two walls and a door, both constructed of paper-thin plywood, were all that separated it from daily life and offered only the appearance of privacy. The toilets I experienced in the Philippines were porcelain bowls, no water tank, no seats – which are apparently an American luxury. This toilet was no different. Also like most Filipino toilets I’d encountered, it was connected to sewage but not running water.
Next to the toilet was a large barrel filled with clean-ish water. Floating in the water was a big plastic cup. The cup was for both flushing and bathing. Oh, I forgot to note, the toilet room was also the shower.
I stood naked and skinny, trying not to touch the black mildewed flimsy walls. With the plastic cup, I poured water over my head making sure to keep my eyes and mouth closed. I was fully lathered, when Jeremy’s soap determined to be unruly. It could have flown into the water barrel, but it didn’t.
“Maybe he wouldn’t understand,” I thought nervously.
Jeremy’s generosity was wearing thin, so I couldn’t come back empty handed. I made the hard decision. Naked, sudzed, bleary eyed, and dry heaving, I plunged my hand into the murky water and retrieved the soap.
I believe soap is inherently clean. While its surface can get dirty, it’s in soap’s nature to be clean. So I lathered it, rinsed it, and returned it with a clean conscience. Jeremy was a little mad. But mostly because I waited until well after we had returned home to tell him about the incident. And also maybe because I had borrowed soap from one of the other fella’s for the remainder of the trip.
Jeremy doesn’t hold my view on soap.
And apparently my view on soap isn’t unwavering.
After I told him what happened he grinned, but it was not friendly. It was evil and promised malicious retribution.
You know that saying “shit happens?”
Well, it’s true.
Sometimes it’s because of carelessness, which wasn’t the case with the soap – seriously Jeremy, let it go… please. Sometimes it happens because we miss God, we sin, we fall short.
Sometimes it happens because someone else messed up. Sometimes it just happens for no apparent reason. A bar of soap jumps out of your hand and into the toilet.
Sometimes while you follow God and you live a life of faith, while you chase Him radically believing, while living the sincerest worship lifestyle ever known to man, your soap still ends up in the toilet.
And in these moments, we have to know one thing.
His love for us is still perfect and always good.
The goodness of my Fathers love has navigated me powerfuly through much more devastating experiences than soap in a toilet.
I have learned that my experiences can never be the measuring stick for my Father’s goodness.
His goodness and His love will follow me all the days of my life. Period.
This faith is the foundational truth upon which everything else in my life is built. And it has been a firm foundation, especially when shit happens.
I pray you would grow sure in His great love today, that upon the rock of His goodness you build you entire life.
Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.
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I litterally had to rescue something from the toilet this morning by hand. I got mad at my four year old, who was mad at her sister and threw the object in on purpose. I grabbed her arm, swatted her and sent her to time out. Right now shes my most stubborn child so its easy to be the most stubborn parent w her. I felt bad and wondered what other way i could have responded to the “toilet” incident. It wasnt the first time either. No one wants to stick their hand into the toilet. Murky water or not. I was more upset about that than the actual “sin”. However i really need to take his grace cause all morning i have been thinking about it and feeling bad. Thanks for the message.
He obviously lived through it. I wouldn’t have told him. I wouldn’t have let you use it in the first place unless maybe we cut it in half. Soap seems like a personal item, unlike tooth paste in a tube. Oh Jason, you character. I want you to know you have taken my mind off of a matter where I am seriously on the edge of judging someone, even after reading the scripture not to. This laughter and smirking you have made me do has finally made me shake it off. Thank you.
Leda, glad a little humor helped hehe. If you need a theme song for the day, I think Taylor Swift has one 🙂 …Shake it off, shake it off…
Ha, you’re awesome and an AMAZING mom! Sorry about the toilet, praying grace over every other toilet-related incident going forward – love from the Clarks!
Love your perspective on God, bro. Keep up the good work!
Oh, man, I thought you were gonna keep going with the “soap is inherently clean” concept and talk about how God made us inherently perfect and how even when life drops us in the toilet, even if we ourselves jump in the toilet, it doesn’t change our essential nature as perfectly made beings created in the image of God. And that no matter how many times we find ourselves in the toilet, God will reach in and pull us out and keep using us.
Still a good story 😊.
That’s so good!
That analogy works so well man! Yeah, next time I write on inherently clean soap, I’m gonna take your angle haha – nice!
I can confirm…my rations of Q-tips were dwindling…along with my patience. But not telling me was the kindest thing you could have done. Especially since I became violently ill after eating a few green mangos…or maybe it was from the candied sausage.
It really was a great trip though.
Thanks again for eating my portion of the green mangos and candies sausage. Sorry about the violent sickness.
Dang, that was a rough trip!!