Cleaning the Closet

Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, forgiving one another…. But above all these things put on love. Colossians 3:1213, 14 (NKJV)

I’ve got closet full of clothes I hesitate to throw away. There are my “fat” clothes and my “skinny” clothes, outdated clothes and classic clothes that never go out of style, casual clothes and dressy clothes, comfy clothes and those that aren’t so comfortable, clothes with missing buttons, broken zippers, and holes in the fabric with some use left in them.

Every spring and fall I go through my closet, sorting and organizing, weeding out those I don’t fit into anymore and will probably never fit into again, those that just aren’t my style any longer and those I’ve grown tired of.

I make four piles: pitch, give away, keep, and I don’t know. Clothes that are threadbare or torn (I don’t sew) go on the pitch pile, destined for the rag bin or garbage. The giveaway pile is for clothes I haven’t worn in a year and probably won’t wear even if I slimmed down enough to fit into them, yet they still have enough wear in them for someone else. The clothes I keep are the ones I wear frequently, the ones I’ll need for special occasions, and the ones that don’t go out of style. Clothes that I can’t decide whether to keep or to toss go on the I-don’t-know-pile.

I confess: More goes back into the closet than out the door, but I figure if I could get rid of at least one item that has lost its usefulness, I’m ahead.

I need to have a regular cleaning session with my spiritual closet, too. But for those items I need only two piles: pitch and keep.

Onto the pitch pile go resentment, anger, gossip, envy, deceit, lies, greed, pride, selfishness—all those things that came with my sinful nature. Like old clothes that no longer fit, we must put off that old nature—a nature we were slaves to before we received Jesus as Savior and Lord—a nature that no longer has power over us because it is no longer in us.

“If anyone is in Christ,” Scripture says, “he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

“Put off the old self, which is corrupted by its deceitful desires,” wrote St. Paul to the Ephesians. “Instead put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22–24).

Too often I push those old attitudes and emotions back in the closet where I can’t see them, but still they take up room, crowding and wrinkling the ones I need to put on often.

And what are the clothes I should put on?

Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and love. Love is the one item I must not be without. It is the one that, like a jacket, coat, or shawl, covers all the others.

Cleaning out the closet is never a fun thing to do, but when it’s done—and done right—we have all the wardrobe we’ll ever need. A wardrobe that will never wear out or go out of style. A wardrobe that fits better and becomes more comfortable the more we put it on.

 Help me, Lord, to clean out my closet regularly. Give me the wisdom to see those items that I must put off and those I must put on. Amen.

Read and reflect on Colossians 3:1–17.

© 2015, 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

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.