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I Want to Wash My Hands

I just want to wash my hands.

It finally happened. After months of physical distancing, I couldn’t take it any longer. I actually touched someone that didn’t live in my house. Perhaps it has happened to you as well in a handshake or a hug. 

What great joy to be physically present and not just a voice on the phone or a floating head on Zoom. I was excited to return to the tangible, incarnational, physical ministry that I love and that I had longed for over these months of physical distancing due to COVID-19.

I listened. I prayed. I touched. I anointed. I blessed. I hugged. In the midst of my joy, it hit me. I had touched someone! 

I had actually touched someone, and in an instant, all I could think about was washing my hands.

After rushing to the nearest sink, I sat with this strange, compelling need to wash my hands. In the midst of my thought, I realized that the pandemic and the precautions that we take - maintaining physical distance, wearing a mask, and washing hands often - have made me more aware of the potential for infection that I might bring to others. I realized that my desire to wash my hands was a desire to protect my family from infection.

Beyond the risk of coronavirus or other infection, I wonder what I might need to be concerned about bringing to my family? Beyond the physical act of washing my hands, I wonder what I might need to do to protect my family?

I can look at the times that I have brought stress and worry from work into my house and let it infect my relationships with those who matter most to me. I can look at the times when I have allowed anger to infect my speech, when loneliness or insecurity have infected my thoughts, when anxiety and fear have troubled my heart. 

I just want to wash my hands.

I would love to say that in my distress, I turned to the wisdom of the Psalms, but it was the Psalms that reached out to me. As I was pondering how to wash my hands of more than coronavirus, Psalm 26 was the appointed reading within the Daily Office.

26 Vindicate me, O Lord,

    for I have walked in my integrity,

    and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.

2 Prove me, O Lord, and try me;

    test my heart and my mind.

3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes,

    and I walk in your faithfulness.

4 I do not sit with men of falsehood,

    nor do I consort with hypocrites.

5 I hate the assembly of evildoers,

    and I will not sit with the wicked.

6 I wash my hands in innocence

    and go around your altar, O Lord,

7 proclaiming thanksgiving aloud,

    and telling all your wondrous deeds.

8 O Lord, I love the habitation of your house

    and the place where your glory dwells.

9 Do not sweep my soul away with sinners,

    nor my life with bloodthirsty men,

10 in whose hands are evil devices,

    and whose right hands are full of bribes.

11 But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;

    redeem me, and be gracious to me.

12 My foot stands on level ground;

    in the great assembly I will bless the Lord.

Like many of the psalms, the bold proclamations of righteousness call me to self-examination and repentance. As I said the words, “I have walked in integrity and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering,” I realized how often I have trusted in myself, how often I have chosen the brokenness of sin rather than the wholeness of integrity. I needed the Lord to test and refine my heart and my mind. I needed to look and see the steadfast love before my eyes. I needed to look at the company and counsel that I keep in my thoughts, in my entertainment, in my reading, in my social media. With tears in my eyes, I read “I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar.” How often do I let my words be filled with complaining and listing of the ills of my day rather than with thanksgiving and telling of the wonders of God’s work? How often do I long to live in a house of my own design where my glory can be exalted?

I just want to wash my hands.

I want to wash my hands and walk in integrity, in the redemption and graciousness of God. I want to stand on level ground and proclaim the blessing of God. I want to wash my hands to protect and guard my family.

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