Spring Cleaning

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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.

Pockets

 

Let us turn away from everything wrong, whether of body or spirit, and purify ourselves, living in the wholesome fear of God, giving ourselves to him alone. —2 Corinthians 7:1 TLB

I love pockets! Into them I cram the bits and pieces of my daily life—stuffing from the dog’s chair, paper clips, pens, screws, fingernail clippers, gum wrappers, pop bottle caps, rubber bands, used and unused tissues, receipts, keys, loose change, buttons, even the cat’s shed hair.

One pocket is not enough. I like at least two. Into the left pocket I put the things I will throw away. Into the right pocket go the items I’ll either use soon or need to put where they belong. At the end of the day I empty my pockets. It wouldn’t do to carry today’s debris around with me tomorrow, and neglecting to remove a tissue buried deep in the pocket of a pair of jeans that later get tossed into the washing machine can get messy. The items in my right pocket are put where they belong—in a cupboard, closet, or drawer. Tomorrow I will start my day with pockets clean and ready.

I have “spiritual” pockets, too. In them I stuff the bits and pieces of my spiritual life. Deep in my left pocket I push that exaggerated truth, twinge of envy, thoughtless remark, moment of discontent, act of selfishness, word of gossip, and bitter feelings. Into my right pocket go the things I often need at my fingertips: honesty, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, kindness, gentleness, and humility.

Like my physical pockets, my spiritual ones also need to be emptied and scrutinized every day. Disposing each day of the accumulation in my left pocket through confession makes tomorrow’s lighter to carry and quicker to discard. Too often, however, I don’t dig deeply enough, and bits and pieces of an overlooked “tissue” cling to the fabric of my life. That’s why it’s important to ask God to show me what I’ve missed. After I’ve cleaned out my left pocket, I sort through the contents of my right pocket and apply them where they belong—to a relationship, attitude, habit, or perspective.

And tomorrow I start over, with pockets clean and ready.

Father God, keep Your hands in my pockets. Amen.

Read and reflect on Ephesians 4:23–32.

From Minute Meditations: Meeting God in Everyday Experiences, © 2000 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.