I have thought of you all so often in recent days. The parallels between housecleaning and our spiritual lives has been a bit overwhelming at times. We wipe down a surface here and there, we scrub a sink, but it is not the same as taking all the books off the shelf or pulling down the curtains – who knew what creatures lurk in the shadows or folds of the cloth?
Pashur lived at the surface, proclaiming peace and smiles. He kept life simple and pleasing, like dusting the visible surfaces as opposed to the top of the cabinet we cannot see or the back side which has been invisible for months.
Jeremiah looked for the deep clean.
The task of a prophet is not to smooth things over but to make things right. The function of religion is not to make people feel good but to make them good. Love? Yes, God loves us. But his love is passionate and seeks faithful, committed love in return. God does not want tame pets to fondle and feed; he wants mature, free people who will respond to him in authentic individuality. For that to happen there must be honesty and truth. The self must be toppled from its pedestal. There must be pure hearts and clear intelligence, confession of sin and commitment in faith. Eugene Peterson, Run with the Horses
So these have been interesting days – again and again I’ve met my sin in that grime and dirt, the hidden corners, the places no one else can see. God has used these days to expose it, to bring the darkness out into the light.
In the beginning this house was overwhelming – projects everywhere and a limited amount of time to finish them before a summer flight to the states. Stacks of papers, stuffed shelves – everywhere dust and dirt and unorganized mess. This particular summer brought the additional dimension of closing shop on school and preparing for a very different September.
The blunt truth is that in the beginning it is not a fun process. It’s much easier to avoid conflict, to proclaim peace, to curl up and watch another episode on Netflix. Who really cares?
Well, God does. He cares about deep cleaning and hacking because in that muck there are treasures, and the very process of wiping away shelf after shelf of dust and grime, that process is important.
Somewhere along the way there is a tipping point, that moment when there are more clean areas than dirty ones – rejoicing! I got there last night, the house is finally taking on a new look, a bright and orderly look, and I can feel it in my soul.
So a few reminders as you consider spiritual housecleaning.
1. Don’t underestimate how your physical surrounding affect your soul. If you live in chaos, chaos spills into every area of your life. If you’re struggling spiritually, clean your house.
2. Make a list. The list was daunting, but it brought shape and texture to the task.
3. Start with easy jobs. One boy cleaned a drawer, another organized the games.
4. Create landing places. Everything that didn’t have a secure place moved to big tables – stacks and piles and decisions yet to be made.
5. Finish something, that first shelf looked fantastic.
6. Celebrate along the way. Stop and have a cup of coffee, take a long shower at the end of the day, play Words with Friends.
7. Toss, toss, toss. When in doubt, give it away for someone else to enjoy.
8. Leave open spaces as you go – shelves that aren’t filled, drawers half full.
9. Dream as you work – write down ideas that come, thoughts that are stirred up, shopping lists, etcetera.
10. Finish the job. About halfway through I had to rethink my original task list. It was too long and some things will wait until August, but then I determined to see the rest of the jobs through to the end so that I can get on that plane with a sense of deep satisfaction.
Okay, enough for now. I’ve had these thoughts floating in my head and wanted to write them down for you.
Go to it! Go deep, take the high trails.