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 But either we forget we have it or by the time we get around to pulling it out of storage, it’s outdated, rusted, or otherwise useless.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.

 

Sadie’s Story

Sadie, AKA "BItty"
Sadie, AKA “Bitty”

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)

When the 11-year-old Chihuahua was dropped off at the crowded animal shelter, she had obvious health problems. Two weeks went by and no one showed interest in adopting her. After all, who’d want an old dog with health issues? So Sadie was scheduled for euthanasia.

Enter one young lady with a heart for the hurting—and with a passion for God’s creatures. When Sarah McKenrick and her fiancé, Jonathan Cherry, visited the shelter, “to give some animals some love,” a volunteer told them the sad story of the Chihuahua.

“She had been with a family for 11 years,” Sarah told me, “and they just dumped her at the shelter. My heart broke, and I couldn’t let her be put down like that. We adopted her.”

While the veterinarian was spaying Sadie, he discovered still another health problem and called Sarah.

“Are you sure you still want to adopt her?” he asked.

“Absolutely!” Sarah said.

With a heart murmur, congestive heart failure, fluid in her lungs, a bad stomach due to hookworms, and “a long list of other issues,” Sadie was given three months to live—“a hospice situation,” Sarah said. “She was 3.25 pounds and terrified.”

That was three years ago.

“Today she is on ZERO medication, the heart murmur is gone, and she’s a chunky 6 pounds!” reports Sarah, who is now Mrs. Jonathan Cherry.

That’s what love can do.

Jonathan and Sarah loving on Bitty (Sadie)
Jonathan and Sarah loving on Bitty (Sadie)

In Sarah’s and Jonathan’s love for Sadie, who now responds to the name “Bitty,” I see God’s love for all humanity. God’s love for me. God’s love for you. Each one of you.

It doesn’t matter who you are, what your nationality is, what your beliefs are, what you do for a living, or how old you are. It doesn’t matter that you have “SIN” written all over you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve messed up. Or if you are messed up.

It doesn’t matter if you’re what the world calls “damaged goods.” It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, who’ve you’ve been with, where you are.

Read the Gospels. Over and over you’ll see God’s Son reaching out to the outcasts of society.

The woman at a well in Samaria (John 4:1–26) had three strikes against her: She was a woman—women were not at the top of the social ladder in those days; she was a Samaritan—the Jews hated the Samaritans; and she’d had five husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband.

But she wasn’t out—not by God’s standards.

Neither are you.

Then there was the leper who asked Jesus for healing and Jesus touched him (Matthew 8:1–4; Luke 5:12–14). He touched him! My goodness, you didn’t even breathe the same air as a leper in those times, let alone touch one.

But in God’s eyes he wasn’t untouchable.

Neither are you.

And then there was Levi, the tax collector, whom Jesus called to be one of His 12 apostles (Mark 2:13–17; Luke 5:27–31). A tax collector—a despised traitor in the eyes of the Jews.

But he wasn’t despised by God.

Neither are you.

You may know Levi better by his name as one of Jesus’ disciples—Matthew, which means “gift of the LORD.”

That’s what happens when Jesus comes into your life—it changes, you change—transformed from the inside out. It all starts with the unconditional love of God.

Sadie’s story, you see, is your story.

When I’m feeling down on myself, O Lord, remind me of how very much You love me. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Romans 8:31–39

Many thanks to Jonathan and Sarah Cherry for giving me permission to share their story and use their photographs.

Sarah and Jonathan Cherry with Bitty (Sadie)
Sarah and Jonathan Cherry with Bitty (Sadie)