Fall and spring house-cleanings are regular events I grew up with.  The drapes come down and are washed or run through the dryer; the windows are taken apart and cleaned; ceiling fans (all of them this time) are dusted and shined; beds are completely stripped down and deep cleaned; furniture that can’t be moved is climbed over and under to vacuum around.  It’s general chaos that finally results in almost everything back in its place and a comforting sense of accomplishment.

Every once in a while there is a special project that gradually presents itself.  I had one this year.  I had a surface that has been my nemesis for some time.  I had tried every cleaning product and strategy in my arsenal to overcome it, but it had become clear to me that it was just worn out and would need to be replaced.  Still, every day I had to deal with it, and, while trying to be patient, I couldn’t wait for the replacement day to come!  Then I stumbled upon something I had not tried before, and, since it was to be replaced anyway, I knew I had nothing to lose.

So I set to work, one little piece at a time.  I could hardly believe what I was seeing!  It was hard work, but there was progress!  I stayed at it over and over, and the surface kept improving.  While there was indeed some wear and tear, the biggest problem was actually a fine layer of grime.  I couldn’t decide if I was more elated or embarrassed!  I still don’t know how an area with that much traffic and getting cleaned up all the time could accumulate immovable grime!

And then, it hit me.  My heart is just like that.  It’s been made new by Christ, and the Holy Spirit lives there.  Yet sin can find a way to put a film over my heart that I don’t even see.  The heart gets worn down by the constant assault of the world and by the tiniest little harmless sins that I may allow.  I keep on loving God; I continue to read the Word; I keep doing my best to live righteously and confess my sins.  It seems to me that everything is going just fine, and I’m pretty sure that the things that are wrong are just the effect of living in a fallen world; it will all be set right when all is made new, right?

Christ has called me to something better.  I can choose to live in such a vital union with Him that He can press His values into my heart and life.  He will usually do this by His Word, so I need to read it with a quiet, tender, listening heart.  When He reveals sin, I must call it sin as well, and forsake it.  Excusing it is never an option.  Little compromises, personality weaknesses, and harmless vices all create wear patterns in my life, and the grime settles and deepens into my heart.  It becomes so much a part of me that I don’t see it at all.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is not deceived.  He will be faithful to point out sin in my life and bring me under conviction.  I hope to be just as faithful in repenting and forsaking the sin He reveals.  It may require some sacrifice or pain, but in His kindness and patience He will see me through.  It can be embarrassing to admit my sin, but it is so much more elating to give glory to His mercy and forgiveness.  When I begin to truly see what He has done in dying for me and offering forgiveness, the joy can’t be matched!  He will create us together to be His bride, perfect, without spot or wrinkle, sanctified, cleansed by the washing of the water with the Word.

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