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Mystery dirty laundry left on porch: A lesson in washing out stains

A laundry basket overflows with dirty laundry
© New Africa/stock.adobe.com

A Texas woman was recently surprised to find a large basket of dirty laundry on her front porch, complete with laundry detergent and fabric softener. 

The basket was filled with what was obviously a young man’s dirty clothes.

She began trying to find the owner through social media, community boards, and neighbors. After three days with no luck, she decided the clothes needed to be washed.

“It’s two loads. It’s not gonna be that big a deal, so I went ahead and did it,” she said. 

Shortly after she finished washing, drying, and folding the clothes and putting them back in the basket, a young man knocked on her door. He was tracking down his lost laundry.

He explained it was supposed to be dropped off four houses down at the home of a woman he pays to do his laundry. 

He was shocked to find out she’d washed a stranger’s clothes. 

For the woman in Weatherford, Texas, washing the clothes was a no-brainer. “It was just something that, hey, we’ve all struggled in the past year. This isn’t too big of a deal, why not just do it? If somebody’s laundry happens to show up, maybe you should probably do it because maybe someone needs it.” 

God doesn’t run from our dirty laundry

When I think of a “young man’s” laundry, my mind goes back several years to the days my son was in college. He played sports and came home many weekends with dirty laundry. 

Many of his socks could stand up on their own. 

So, if someone left a basket of a man’s dirty clothes on my porch, I am not so sure I could be as kind as the woman in this news story. 

I might run.

On the other hand, I am always up for a challenge. While I was tempted more than once to throw away some of my son’s laundry, my competitive nature prevailed. 

I used every trick in the mom’s book of survival and brought new life into a mountain of smelly, stiff, dirty garments.

I am glad God doesn’t run from our “dirty laundry.” 

Most of us would not wear smelly, dirty clothes unless we didn’t have a choice. Yet, we hold onto sin and, in doing so, become like filthy garments: “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6).

The stains of sin are too deep, too filthy, for us to remove ourselves, no matter what tricks we have available, no matter how hard we try to hide them or disguise them. 

And no matter how big or how heinous, there’s one stain solution that works: Jesus.

What will you wear? 

The prophet Isaiah tells us “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (1:18). 

The answer to this cleansing, softening power is given in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (emphasis mine).

Once confessed, our “dirty laundry” is replaced with clean garments God provides: “So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light . . . But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:12, 14).

Jesus says we are light and salt in the world (Matthew 5:13–15). 

When we dress ourselves with the Lord Jesus, we trade in our dirty deeds, our dirty laundry, and become the salt and light we are intended to be: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (v. 16).

When the young man whose laundry was left on the porch got his clean clothes, his response was, “Oh, my goodness, thank you so much. I’ve been wearing these same jeans for three days now.” 

He was grateful to exchange his filthy clothes for clean ones.

Shouldn’t we?

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