I love a clean house. I hate cleaning.
At various times in my life, I have hired people to clean for me. The problem is, they could never organize for me. I would need a staff for that, and even then it’s hard for them to read my mind.
I never noticed until it was time to pack up to move, that I am a collector of cleaning products – especially the ones that promise less scrubbing and heaven by way of the shower door. Somehow, I thought that by buying all these spray bottles and magic cloths I was creating the potential for spotless bliss.
The problem with that plan was this: Stuff must be moved, cleaning products must be applied and removed, and stuff needs to be dusted/washed/polished before being put back in a better place. All of this requires my participation. It was easier to give everything a quick flick of a damp rag, throw stuff I didn’t know what to do with in the storage room, turn off the light, shut the door, and get on with life.
I realize now that the storage room could be a symbol of every out-of-order thing in my life that I never got around to dealing with, until it threatened to avalanche into the living areas. When it was time to move, I felt overwhelmed. No one could do it for me and yet I couldn’t do it all myself. I had to ask for help.
My life has tended to have pockets of denial where broken, dirty, and embarrassing things collect. It’s easy to try to keep denying their existence until someone wants to look in all the dark corners – someone like Jesus.
Here’s the thing. God forgives because of Jesus, but when sin clutter spills out and blocks the way between us, communication is hindered. It’s hard to be perfectly, nakedly, candidly honest before the Lord when you are struggling to keep sin hidden. John the Beloved wrote about it this way:
Here, then, is the message which we heard from him, and now proclaim to you: GOD IS LIGHT and no shadow of darkness can exist in him. Consequently, if we were to say that we enjoyed fellowship with him and still went on living in darkness, we should be both telling and living a lie. But if we really are living in the same light in which he eternally exists, then we have true fellowship with each other, and the blood which his Son shed for us keeps us clean from all sin. If we refuse to admit that we are sinners, then we live in a world of illusion and truth becomes a stranger to us. But if we freely admit that we have sinned, we find God utterly reliable and straightforward—he forgives our sins and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil. For if we take up the attitude “we have not sinned”, we flatly deny God’s diagnosis of our condition and cut ourselves off from what he has to say to us. (1 John 1:5-9 Phillips)
Confession means admitting we have a sin problem. God forgives and cleanses us, but we need to be bravely honest and ask him to take away all the junk hidden in our hearts. I love a clean house, but a clean heart even more.
Creative Meditations for Lent, Word prompt: Clean