“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. ” -Ezekiel 36:25
Last week, I enjoyed time off work to prepare for, and celebrate, the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m not sure what normal people do with their time off, but for me extra time means extra cleaning. That’s right, not only do I spend my time off doing menial labor, but…worse yet…I look forward to it! I realize most of you are feeling a sudden disconnect with me at this point but don’t stop reading! If God can speak through something as unconventional as a donkey, surely He can also speak through someone as unbalanced as a would-be Merry Maid! As you know, God can speak in unusual ways and through unexpected means, so when I found His hidden message under my kitchen cabinets, I really wasn’t all that surprised; troubled and a bit traumatized, yes, but not surprised.
So this is how it all unfolded. I decided to clean the kitchen…I mean really clean the kitchen. I took things out of the cabinets and wiped the shelves down. I wiped down the cabinet doors, I cleaned out the fridge, I rotated and, when the date necessitated, donated (to the land from which they came) canned pickles, relishes, and jellies. I was both pleased with my efforts and perturbed with the undeniable realization that my house was not as clean as I had thought! Then, the final blow came. I was on the floor working on the lower cabinets when I saw the trim that is somewhat set-in and only visible if one is sitting on the floor (note to self: never serve a meal Japanese style on the kitchen floor; always, but always, place guests in chairs…where their eyes are high and lifted up). Anyway, as I was wiping I saw where something had been splattered up under the cabinets. How long it had been there, I cannot say; what its original composition was, I do not know; when it met its unmaker, I do know, for I took it down single-handedly. One rag, one bucket, and one grimacing face led to one reclaimed baseboard. It was then that I started thinking about positional cleanliness; how some things are only seen when our positions are changed so that overlooked areas can rise to “see” level. I could still be living alongside that bespattered baseboard, none the wiser, if I had not gone from a standing positon to a sitting position. When I thought about this truth, I “read the writing on the baseboard”; what’s true in housecleaning is also true in heart-cleaning.
And so I asked God about this message He had left. What was He telling me? What was He wanting me to do? Was there something icky splattered on my heart? Did I need Him to come to me with a rag of reproof, a bucket of grace, and a grimacing Savior’s face? I thought about how the thoroughness of my cleaning was directly tied to the angle of my vision; somethings are only visible through a positional adjustment. So, how does one experience a positional change spiritually? What needs to happen for hidden areas to be uncovered, and then cleaned? That, I thought, was a really good question. So good, in fact, that it took me a couple of days to sort it out and then a couple more to apply what I had been shown.
I believe in daily “quiet times”; time when you sit down with God before you start your day. Time enough to just talk to Him, read His word, and pray. I not only believe in this, I depend on it; I desperately need this time each day and I look forward to it every morning. But the message on the baseboard told me that even in doing this, I can have an apparently clean heart with a sin-splatter lurking just under the surface. I may not see it, but it’s there. What I need is a positional change so that the undetected can become evident…and then cleansed. But how is this done? I thought about how a new perspective can be achieved and concluded there are two sources: God and others. First, God, as the Father of Truth, has all the light ever needed to shine into our sinful crevices. So, I thought about the direction through which I approached this Light and I realized I have settled into a pattern during my quiet times. It’s not a bad pattern, but it’s predictable and so it keeps me in the same “position”. If I want God’s word to access every area of my heart, then I need to make sure I expose myself to the whole counsel of His word. I need to read from the New Testament and the Old Testament; I need to drink from the well of the law and from the fount of grace; I need to memorize new verses as well as revisit old ones; I need to grasp the meaning of entire books as well as grapple with the Hebrew and Greek meaning of individual words. In other words, I need to become a student of the word and not just a reader of the word. I need to increase my areas of understanding so that God may pour His Light over them and transform knowledge to wisdom.
Then, there’s the light that can only be shed by the eyes of another; from the eyes of a fellow believer who is willing to point out the splatters she sees because her view is positionally different than your own. This takes a godly friend; one who speaks the truth in love, one who allows God to speak through her, and one who isn’t squeamish about looking under spiritual countertops! As Jesus pointed out, it’s easier to see the splinter in someone else’s eye than it is to see the log in one’s own eye. In like manner, it’s easier to see the dirt in someone else’s kitchen than to see it in your own. So, if you really want to be positionally clean, call in some outside help…for an inside job.
And so there you have it: my lesson on positional cleanliness. This lesson took a while to uncover and it will take an even longer time to unpack. As is true with housecleaning, heart-cleaning doesn’t happen overnight and the mess always gets bigger before it gets better! But, when it is complete, the benefits are worth the effort…and the cleanliness can be seen from any angle!