Cleaning House

I have now officially lived in my American condo for longer than I have lived in some of the countries where we served overseas. Having been on a three-to-four-year cycle for moves and furloughs, I always get a bit antsy after I’ve lived in any one place for a while. However, I’m not planning on moving anytime soon, unless the Lord changes that.

This past July 4th weekend marked my fifth year in my current location, so I decided to take an extra day off of the long weekend to do a deep cleaning of my place. While I “clean” on a regular basis, there is nothing that makes me feel better than knowing I’ve “really” cleaned. I spent one entire day on my knees washing the baseboards in my bathroom and cleaning the floor in that room and my kitchen by hand.

I hate grout—just have to get that out there.

After recovering over Sunday from Saturday’s work, I began the next phase of my project, which was cleaning behind and under furniture.

Did I mention I have a cat?

I won’t say I hate my cat, but I am not a fan of cat hair. I think most of you know where this is going, for as I cleaned, the cat hair piled up. The picture I include with this post is just the beginning of the process, so in no way does it reveal the full reality of what I disposed of between my vacuum and broom. The more hair I found, the more I wondered how I was even breathing in my home. It’s a wonder, indeed.

After sweeping that first major pile of hair and dust, the Holy Spirit reminded me of how we can learn from anything we do in life—even cleaning. What kept me from tackling this obvious hair-invasion years earlier?

Does “out of sight, out of mind” ring a bell?

As long as that hair hid under my bed or behind a chair, I didn’t have to face it. I was obviously suffering the effects of it, but without acknowledging that it was a real problem. As I swept, I saw a small wad of cat hair carefully caught in a spider’s web under a desk (That’s the picture on the left in this post). That was when the Spirit’s lesson became even more relevant.

Sin is like cat hair—Let it go and it piles up and clogs your heart.

While all you dog lovers are probably nodding your heads, don’t think you’re off the hook. Dog dander can cause just as much of a problem. In reality, any kind of physical or metaphorical dirt can add up in our lives and work for our purposes today.

When we don’t keep our spiritual houses clean, then the seemingly little things, like bad habits, hurtful words, and wrong actions begin to hide out in the corners of our minds. We don’t realize how they’re hindering us from allowing the Spirit to have his way in our lives, but they are. He’s grieved when we don’t confess and sweep sin out of the house. What was it about the little bit of yeast?

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little leaven leavens the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new unleavened batch, as indeed you are.

1 Corinthians 5:6-7a CSB

Why do I write this post about cleaning house on Mission Monday? Because even those of us who serve in cross-cultural or full-time ministry are susceptible to letting our houses get dirty. One of the biggest reasons missionaries don’t keep their spiritual houses clean is busyness. We are too busy serving to check our hearts, to ask the Holy Spirit to convict us of those hidden sins. Then we wonder why all of a sudden, we’ve fallen prey to a sin that causes us shame, leads to a reprimand from supervisors, or even a return ticket home.

Keep your spiritual broom handy.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

I love a clean house, but it doesn’t stay that way long—especially with a cat! Still, I’ve learned my lesson. If I’m a bit more diligent and regular with the daily and weekly cleaning, I won’t suffer in the long run.

I pray that I’ve also learned my lesson for regular spiritual cleaning. I trust you have too.

Grace and Peace

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