Let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. –2 Corinthians 7:1 NLT
My entire house is in a state of upheaval.
Blame it on the much-needed new carpeting. While I knew everything – and I mean everything – had to be removed from the three rooms and hall, I was clueless how much stuff we’d accumulated over the years.
My study was the worst. A year ago I started cleaning and organizing it. I got as far as packing things in boxes and creating a pile of I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with, I’ll-get-to-it-later stuff. The disorganized mess got so bad I closed the door when company came and ignored it the rest of the time. Which was getting harder to do since the only clear floor space was a narrow walkway from the door to my computer desk, a distance of three steps.
When the time came to prepare for the new carpeting, I simply dumped the stuff into boxes and bins and transferred the chaos to the dining room.
I know it’ll take time to go through it all, so I’m practicing patience. After all, it was impatience that bred the mess. Little by little, box by box, bin by bin, day by day, I’m sorting through everything – and asking myself why I held on to all that stuff. Most of the items I’d forgotten I had.
We all have areas like that, don’t we? A closet, a room, an attic or basement (or both), a garage, a shed . . . we squirrel things away thinking we may need them some day. Or we hold on for sentimental reasons. But either we forget we have it or by the time we get around to pulling it out of storage, it’s outdated, rusted, or otherwise useless. Or we’ve forgotten why we saved it.
Our spiritual houses need regular cleaning, too. How often we hang onto things better let go: a twinge of envy, a smattering of jealousy, a thoughtless remark, a moment of discontent, an act of selfishness, a surge of anger, a word of gossip, a root of bitterness, an unforgiving attitude, an exaggerated truth, a time of disappointment, discouragement, doubt. In and of themselves, they hardly take up room. But added together, compounded day after day, year after year, they usurp the room we have in our hearts and souls, leaving little space for the good stuff.
Like kindness, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, gentleness, humility.
How to tackle such a colossal task?
First, decide to do it. Determine, “I don’t want to be this way any longer.”
Then dig in. Confess your shortcomings, weaknesses, and failures to the One who knows all you can be, who created you to be far more than you can imagine, who’s waiting to fulfill His purpose for you.
Accept His forgiveness and cleansing and let go of every ugly thing, every wart, every blemish. And don’t go back to the garbage heap and pull them out again.
Finally, know this will take time. God isn’t going to wave His hand over you and poof! all your imperfections disappear immediately.
Little by little, day by day, let Him change you, purify you, transform you into the person He created you to be, into the image of His Son. Remember, He who began this good work in you will keep right on helping you grow in His grace until His task within you is finally finished (Philippians 1:6 GNT).
Yes, it’s a time of upheaval. But like the road construction sign says, “Temporary inconvenience. Permanent improvement.”
Dear God, grant me the ruthlessness to pitch what I don’t and won’t need, the insight to discern what to keep, and the long-suffering and energy to sort through it all. Amen.
Read and meditate on Ephesians 4:23–32.
© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.