So, Thursday, I went Christmas shopping with a friend and her 2 daughters. We were to meet at 9:30 a.m. – and I, NOT being a morning person, slept in until the last possible minute. As I attempted to get myself and my baby ready in a very short period of time, I just kind of left a trail of things behind me as I rushed through the house, trying to get everything together. I let Miriam pull things out of the cabinets as I fixed my hair and make-up in the bathroom and decided just to leave all the bath-and-body products she pulled out where they lay. Plus there were about 5 loads of unfolded laundry in my living room, stacks of unorganized paperwork and mail on the dining room table, and I probably needed to clean the cat litter boxes. If I had taken time to empty the dishwasher, I could have put in all the dirty dishes left in the sink.
Leaving the mess behind me, I picked up my friends, and blissfully, we drove to a nearby city to go do our shopping. Half way to our destination, my cell phone rang, and my husband informed that my in-laws were going to be stopping at our house TODAY instead of tomorrow, as planned, on their way home from his grandma’s funeral. Well, there was NO WAY I was going to give up my shopping plans to go home to clean up my house. And thus I made a huge decision:
I decided that my in-laws would have to see my house as it was. Since they would be arriving there before me, there was no hiding my mess. This is just how life happens sometimes. They would get a glimpse of the real, unorganized me. As someone who ALWAYS cleans frantically before company comes, who hates to be caught off-guard, this wasn’t so easy for me to accept … but given no choice, this was my fate.
I came home that evening to find my in-laws, husband, and older two children sitting in the midst of my mess, chatting happily, eating some left-overs they had brought, seemingly totally oblivious of the mess all around them. They were just happy to be together. And I was happy to join them.
PROLOGUE: my in-laws went to bed early, and I immediately commenced cleaning up everything so that I had a somewhat orderly house again by the next day. 🙂
As I contemplated what had happened to me, I thought of a spiritual analogy – a “moral to this story:”
I clean up myself pretty well for church each Sunday and Wednesday; I know what the Bible says about how a Christian should act and live; I desire to be sincerely and genuinely doing what is right. BUT I am often more of a mess than I want to be. I neglect the maintenance of my spiritual life sometimes, and I turn into a great big, walking disaster. Occasionally, because it is bound to happen, that mess is revealed – either by my bad attitude, by something ugly I say, or oftentimes just because I slip up and reveal the true sinfulness of my heart.
Matthew 12:34, “…out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” Or as Jim Berg describes it in Changed Into His Image, our lives are like tea bags; when we get into “hot water,” what is inside comes out. If anger, bitterness, and ugly thoughts are inside, they will eventually be revealed. If we try to maintain a godly attitude, joy, and a love for others, that too will be shown clearly when times of trial, irritation, interruption, or the unexpected happen.
Sometimes we have to do some “spiritual housekeeping.” It would be easier if we weren’t so prone to sin, so apt to forget the needful things to maintain a clean heart before the Lord. Thankfully, as Christians, God still works on us daily, knowing our “frame” (our weakness), that we are but dust. (Ps. 103:14). He lives in our hearts; He knows the REAL us. Even in the midst of the mess, He still comes in, ready to accept, forgive, and help us work our way out, if we allow Him to.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)