Spring Cleaning

Image courtesy of Vecteezy.com

You are already made clean by the word that I have spoken to you. John 15:3 RSV

I don’t spring clean. My mother did, though. So did my mother-in-law. Both turned the house upside-down every spring to get to the ceilings, walls, floors, and giving everything on and in them—and I mean everything—a good scrub-down.

It’s not that I don’t like a clean house. It’s not that I’m lazy. It’s just that I can’t stand for things to be out of place. I’d wait until I couldn’t stand the dust anymore to get out my Swiffer duster. The floor was vacuumed more often once I bought a new, lightweight upright that swiveled and maneuvered around furniture like a sleek racecar and was easier on my back. Occasionally I gave the house a thorough cleaning, but not annually and not all at once. I couldn’t handle that.

But since DH retired, he’s taken over the cleaning duties so I could have the time to write. He’s much better at keeping the house clean than I was. He doesn’t let things go until he can’t stand it any longer.

Just as I need to give my house a thorough cleaning periodically, so must I do the same with my spirit, going through room by room, tossing the trash and clutter that’s accumulated, and sweeping away all the dust and dirt—the residue of everyday living.

My spiritual “Swiffer” is the Word of God; my vacuum cleaner, prayer. And what better time to do my spiritual spring cleaning than Lent? Beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter morning, Lent is a time to examine ourselves for anything that clutters and dirties our spirits, hindering our spiritual growth and thus our relationship with God.

That’s why I’m taking a“40-Day Challenge” to read through the Gospels by Easter. Two chapters a day will get me through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I can’t think of a better way to prepare for Easter than to read through the accounts of the life and ministry of Christ written by His closest disciples.

I’m also keeping a SOAP journal, copying one verse of Scripture to meditate on (“S”); writing down in one or two sentences what I see (observe) in that verse (“O”) and how to apply it to my life (“A”); and finally a one or two sentence prayer (“P”) relating to the verse. I like the SOAP format because wordy me has to be concise, and it’s in that very conciseness that the meaning shines like a cleaned and polished room.

Prayer is also a vital aspect of the 40-day challenge. Prayer is simply talking to God. I keep a prayer journal at the back of my SOAP journal. I note personal prayers and requests for others. I pray for needs on my heart, folks and situations the Holy Spirit brings to mind as I pray. I also record when and how my prayers are answered.

My spiritual spring cleaning may turn things topsy-turvy. Although I like order and organization, I’ve got to give God room to work—and trust Him for the results.

Why not take the 40-day challenge with me?

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a new and right spirit within me. Search me and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen. (Based on Psalms 51:10 and 139:23, 24)

More “tea” for the 40-day challenge: 2 Timothy 3:16; Jeremiah 29:13; James 4:8; Psalms 51 and 139; Hebrews 4:12.

Read and reflect on Psalm 19:7-14

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Eye Troubles

Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word. – Psalm 119:18 TLB

I haven’t had a prescription change for my glasses for years, so when my vision became increasingly blurry, I thought that was the problem.

But no.

“I can change your prescription,” my eye doctor told me recently, “but that will improve your vision only 20 to 30 percent. The problem is cataracts.”

Oh, the joys of growing old.

While I knew I had cataracts for several years, they weren’t bad enough cause any problems besides a slight blurring of my vision, which my glasses corrected – to a point. But as the cataracts progressively worsened and blocked more and more light, they began to interfere with my everyday life. Simple things I took for granted became a struggle.

For example, I can’t recognize faces until the person is almost right in front of me. So if you see me and it appears that I’m ignoring you, I’m not. I just can’t recognize you or see the smile on your face.

Seeing words clearly on the computer monitor is another challenge. I’m a perfectionist, and the number of typos getting past these once eagle eyes irks me to no end. (Yes, I edit emails, text messages, Facebook posts, and other casual forms of written communication.)

I won’t drive at night these days, as the glare of oncoming headlights makes it even more difficult to see. Driving during the day isn’t much better, since I can’t read the road signs until I’m up upon them.

Reading the scoreboard at my grandson’s baseball games is just as frustrating. And you know how big those are.

But this will all change after surgery. I’ll be able to see clearly again! Hallelujah!

We can have spiritual cataracts. They, too, grow slowly, over time. At first we aren’t aware anything is clouding our spiritual vision, but eventually everything that was once clear becomes blurry.

What causes spiritual cataracts?

Many things – and they all block God’s light from entering your spirit.

First on the list is sin. Sin causes us to see things as we want to see them, not as God does. We lose our divine perspective. The cataract gets worse when we deny sin’s existence, continue to do what we know we shouldn’t, and when we justify our wrongdoing (wrong actions, wrong thoughts wrong attitudes).

Another cause of spiritual cataracts is doubt. Doubt, put simply, is not believing God, His Word, His promises, His goodness. When you doubt, God, you are saying, in effect, “I don’t trust You.”

Close to this is the cataract of cynicism. Life has slammed you once too many times, and you’ve lost the ability to see good in any person, situation, or experience. Bitterness builds up, and you erect a wall around your heart, refusing to let anyone in for fear of getting hurt again.

Lack of passion for God and His Word is another cause of spiritual cataracts. When I first became a believer, I was on fire for God. When I read His Word, understanding, excitement, and enthusiasm filled me. Joy overflowed. But as time went on and life happened, the fire sputtered.

Like with any fire, you can’t expect it to burn on its own. A fire needs fuel. And that fuel is taking the time for God – to talk to Him in prayer, to read His Word whether or not I understand it, to consciously be aware of His abiding presence in my life.

This leads to my final cause of spiritual cataracts: busyness. I must carve out time to sit down, read the Word, and talk to God. While it could be any time, I find morning, before I begin my day, is best. Because if I don’t, I get so caught up crossing things off my to-do list, the day is over and I haven’t taken time with God.

I keep a quote by Hudson Taylor on the front page of my prayer journal: “Do not have your concert first and tune your instruments afterward. Begin the day with God.”

The remedy for spiritual cataracts is the same as for physical ones: Removal. Confess sin, dispel doubt, squash cynicism, starve apathy, and boot out busyness.

Eye trouble? Here are some Scriptures to help you:

“Fix my eyes on Your ways” (Ps. 119:15 ESV).

“Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word” (Ps. 119:18 TLB).

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things” (Ps. 119:37 ESV).

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see You. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 119:10–40

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Image in public domain.