Hell’s Angels and Window Cleaner
Working at a full service gas station while in High School brought me into contact with an assortment of curious characters. One of our regular customers, who never bought more than three dollars in gas, wanted to use one of our garage bays as his personal auto shop. Another character from Cleveland showed up wearing a long overcoat on a hot summer night. He opened it to reveal about a hundred shiny wrist watches for men and women. He offered to sell one these genuine high quality timepieces for a fraction of the cost. The more I turned him down the more he came down on the price. Then there was the pro-football player for the Browns. The list goes on. After all, our small town was one of the biggest vacations spots in the Buckeye State.
The most memorable group was the Hell’s Angels. When this motorcycle gang rode into town everyone was on edge. They had been known to cause trouble. My boss, and good friend Russ, told me that when they showed up for gas all I needed to do was to be friendly and let them pump their own gas. We never touched anyone’s motorcycle. Furthermore, if anyone gave me trouble about paying I was to find the leader of the group and tell him about it.
One summer day the Hell’s Angels roared into town. It looked like they just pulled off a 1970s movie set. They had about two dozen bikes and a multi colored van that looked like they had used hundreds of left over spray paint cans to repaint it. Most of them wore their special black leather jackets, an assortment of odd helmets, long hair, tattoos, bandanas and chains. We were very busy that afternoon, so after I handed off the pump to the first motorcycle rider I attended the other customers. While I was filling up their van I noticed one of the gang being very loud and obnoxious. He was drunk and carrying a half empty whisky bottle. The corporate rules for all our gas stations were no drinking on the premises. I walked over to their leader and informed him of the problem. He yelled to the drunken biker to get rid of the bottle and then commanded one of the other bikers to put him in the van.
After all the bikes had been gassed up, the leader put gas in his bike. He asked me if everyone had paid up. I pointed out the two who had yet to pay. He shouted, “Everyone needs to make sure they have paid the man so we can go.” Soon all the money was collected and they roared out of town in the opposite direction.
Saturday business was so overwhelming that I did not have time to think about the events of that morning. The cars were lined up into the street at one point. Company policy required me to wash every car windshield and back window and ask if they wanted their oil checked. The only thing odd about that day was the ease at which I was able to wash the bugs off the front windshields. It worked so well I thought that Russ had failed to properly dilute the bucket of window cleaner. When eleven o’clock at night finally arrived for me to close down, I found out why the window cleaner was working to well. The drunk biker had thrown his half empty whiskey bottle in the wash bucket. Russ was not impressed when I put in the suggestion that we add a pint of whiskey to our window cleaner.
Window washing was never as easy as it was on that Saturday. Some things are hard to scrub off a windshield. As we journey through life our souls can become stained and marred with sin. All our efforts to cleanse our own souls are futile. No amount of good deeds can remove the old sins. Psychiatrists cannot explain them away. Drugs and alcohol will not erase them. Our sins cannot be wiped away by ascetic practices.
When it comes to the stain of sin upon our souls there is only one thing powerful enough to remove it – the blood of Christ. An old familiar hymn we sing asks, “What Can Wash Away My Sins?” The chorus answers, “nothing but the blood of Jesus.” After repenting of his adultery with Bathsheba David prayed, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin” (Ps. 51:2). Not even the blood of bulls and goats from all the sacrificing during the Old Covenant was able to take away a single sin (Heb. 10:4).
The cleansing power of Christ’s sacrifice can be seen throughout the Word of God. Saul of Tarsus persecuted the early church. Later, he would become known as Paul the apostle. Even toward the end of his life he looked back on his former life as being a chief of sinners. Yet, while he awaited to be told in Damascus what he needed to do to rid himself of his evil deeds, God sent a preacher who commanded him, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). The Psalmists asked, “How can a young man cleanse his way?” and then answers “By taking heed according to Your word” (Ps. 119:9). The Word of God commands all to cleanse their sins by being baptized into Christ’s death where His cleansing blood was shed (Rom. 6:3-6). Paul explains how the bride of Christ, the church, was cleansed “that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 4:26). Even after we become a Christian, the blood of Christ can still cleanse us of any sin as long as we walk in the light repenting and confessing our sins. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7; cf. 8-10). The most powerful cleansing agent in the world came from outside this world. The Son of God sacrificed Himself for our sins on the cross. His blood is the crimson cure for our scarlet sin.
– Daniel R. Vess