So, there I stood at the sink in the Waffle House bathroom. As I reached up to get the soap, I noticed an instruction guide on how to wash your hands posted on the wall in front of me. The guide even had clip-art illustrations in case simple words didn’t do justice to the quality of information that was being presented. While part of me thought it was pretty funny….part of me thought it was pretty sad. “Did they really need to tell us step by step how to wash our hands?” Apparently, they thought so…and apparently I felt obliged to not only read through the steps…not only to walk through the steps as I washed my hands…. but to share the steps with you as well.
Step One was turning on the water. Step two was placing your hands under the running water. Step three was the soap application phase. Step four was the final rinse…..and step five was drying off of the hands with disposable paper towels. There was no step six that reminded us to throw the paper towel away…so I will insert that here if it is okay with you.
I walked out of the bathroom and laughingly told my wife about the how to guide in the bathroom. We spent several minutes thinking, laughing, and talking about the justification of such a sign. “What steps were people forgetting?”, I thought. Were they forgetting to turn on the water? Were they using the disposable paper towel in step two instead of step five? Were they skipping the pre-rinse phase and going straight into a gooey soap distribution onto their dirty….but dry…hands phase? What part were people missing that caused some big executive in the cooperate office of Waffle House to decide that they needed to put a how to wash hands guide in all of their restaurants?
Not only did I ask the question….but I also thought of the answer. The reason they were putting these guides in restaurants were not because people were forgetting ONE of the steps……it was because people were forgetting ALL OF THEM. People were simply not washing their hands…and Waffle House decided to do something about it. Now, I am not quite sure how a company researches something like this…..if they have a soap distribution to door opening and closing distribution ratio excel spreadsheet somewhere in those exec offices..…..but somehow they thought…if we could simply draw attention to washing hands…..maybe things would change.
I am pretty sure it worked. I am pretty sure that I wasn’t the first Joe Schmo who walked in and thought the guide was funny. I am pretty sure that I am not the first person who followed the guide word for word…..simply out of jest. I am pretty sure that I am not the first guy to walk out of the bathroom and laughingly tell his wife that …..”you won’t believe what they put up in the bathroom.” By telling us to do something we already knew how to do…..Waffle House was reminding us…..simply to do it.
May you come clean. May you recognize the truths in your life that have no application and may you let God take you back to the basics. May you slow down and take the time to “do the basics” that lead to faith, trust, and joy in your relationship with your Father. May you find order. May you examine daily, may you scrub even harder than ever before, and may you honestly and anxiously allow God to work in you and through you daily so that you may literally come clean with where you are, with where you have been, and with where you are going. May you go back to the how to guide and may you be reminded that His Word is fresh and new every day. And for goodness sakes…may you wash your hands….especially while eating at Waffle House.
Written by our Pastor Dr. Mark A Bedwell