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.

Upheaval!

Stuff from two bedrooms, my study, and the hall jam-packs the dining room in preparation for new carpeting.

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.”

A clean and organized study/writing room gives my muse room to dance!

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.