“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”
Lesson 2: There’s Always More to Do
Hours after I toted all of the cleaning bottles and paraphernalia to the back of the house, I had now systematically worked through each room, accomplishing the “Big Clean.” Not the everyday wipe-down. Not the daily decluttering. The kind of clean you build up to over time, where you flip over sofa cushions and apply toothbrush to grout.
I emptied the bucket of soapy water, hung up my dish rag, placed the broom in the closet and sat down to write. I was finished cleaning. The house was spotless.
Except for the fact that as I sat at the kitchen table, I now saw the clear handprints left by my daughters on the window next to me. I just washed that window two days ago. Now there were handprints. Up I hopped, grabbed the Windex and a paper towel. Spritzed. Wiped down. Put cleaning supplies away. Sitting down again, I thought, “yes, now I am truly done.”
Except now I could clearly see a splotch on one wall that I must have missed earlier. No problem. One quick wipe-down and I am done.
Except . . .
The reality of cleaning is that there will always be more mess, if not now than later.
And so it is with us. We allow God to clean us out, scrubbing out the hidden corners of sin, bad attitudes and rotten motives. We are purified, refined, and made new. Yet, no matter how far we have progressed on this road to Christ-likeness, we will not attain perfection on this planet. “We know that when Christ appears,we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2b). But, until Christ appears, we’re not going to be His perfect likeness and we’re going to have more messes to clean up.
We could take that as permission to stop cleaning all together. Why make the bed, if you’ll sleep it in that night? Why wash the dishes if they are just going to be dirtied again? Why keep trying to be more like Christ when I can’t possibly be perfect?
And yet, Paul wrote:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
In her book One in a Million, Priscilla Shirer writes, “You might be in the oasis of complacency if you’ve started thinking you’ve arrived and that nothing more is really required of you at this point in life. You’ve basically stopped hungering for anything new, concluding that your present experience with God is probably as good as it’s going to get.”
Sometimes the most dangerous place for a Christian to be is immediately following a “Big Clean.” We feel excited about the work God has done in us, the place He’s brought us to, the revolutionary way He has stirred up our hearts. Then we begin to think we’ve made it. We’re so close to God right now; there just couldn’t be anything closer. We’re so much farther than where we were before, so taking a moment to enjoy the new and improved location seems like a good idea. Then we settle in and stop moving forward.
It’s just like the two-and-a-half tribes of Israel that chose to settle down east of the Jordan river rather than taking the land God promised them in Canaan. They stopped just short of God’s fullest blessing. They settled for less all because they thought what they had was good enough.
But, I want God’s very best for me, the fullness of His plan, even if that means moving out of what is comfortable, even if that means letting the Holy Spirit take a mop and bucket to my heart day after day.
The solution for continual mess isn’t hopelessly shrugging our shoulders about sin or complacently allowing Satan to clutter our lives with trash and dirt. Instead, we clean and clean and clean, everyday scrubbing out the fingerprints of Satan and our flesh and the world. We Windex the windows of our hearts so that Christ can shine through us. And we do it day after day after day until Christ whisks us away to the glory of heaven and the spotless purity of His presence, because even though we can’t be perfect this side of heaven, the progress we make on this journey, the miraculously transformative work that God does in us, points others to Christ. Others look at us and see God’s handiwork, testimony that the grace that is at work in us can be at work in them, too.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King