Cleaning House

I swept the floor, washed the dishes, wiped the counters, put away the clothes I had hanging up to dry.  After that, I scrubbed the bathrooms down, vacuumed the carpets, and then dropped onto my hands and knees to mop up the floor with a rag dipped in Lysol water. I even sorted the papers and collection of junk in the file box on my kitchen counter.

Then I performed “the sweep”—the walk-through of the house picking up random items that have traveled far from their home and never made it back where they belonged.

You’d think, perhaps, that I was preparing for important company.  Maybe someone I needed to impress.  Or even an out-of-town visitor here for an extended stay.

Nothing so exciting, I assure you.  I was cleaning because the heating and air conditioning guy was coming to perform the spring checkup on our system.

Because clearly the opinion of the guy who checks my home’s thermostat really matters.

I do this—frantically cleaning up my home for repairmen and others who seem like nice enough fellows and decent enough folks, but whose judgment on my housekeeping skills matters very little.

But God’s opinion of me matters.  His presence in our lives has significance.  He is the long-term honored guest, who has made Himself a home in us.

So, I should care whether I’ve swept out stubborn cobwebs in my heart and cleaned behind the fridge where most visitors never look.  I should mop up the dirt under His feet and scrub away grime from old habits, bad attitudes, and misplaced motivations.

And throwing clothes into the dryer, dishes into the oven and random bits of mess into closets and shutting the doors to hide it all doesn’t cut it with Him.

Because He is Almighty God.  He is worthy of untainted praise and unstained worship.  He is purity and righteousness and light.

He isn’t just a holy god.  Instead, Heaven declares: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3).

 In her book, Knowing the Name of God, Mary Kassian writes:

“The Bible never describes God as ‘love, love, love,’ ‘faithful, faithful, faithful,’ or ‘mighty, mighty, mighty.’  But it does emphasize that He is ‘holy, holy, holy.’  Holiness is the only attribute of God that is ever tripled” (p. 35).

Scrub as we might, though, we could never remove every remnant of stain in our lives.  We could make it our passion or obsession, but we’d inevitably fail.  We can’t ever be holy enough for our Holy, Holy, Holy God.

But that’s the beauty of it all.  It’s that we don’t set about disinfecting our lives and then seek God’s face.  We don’t clean ourselves all up, spit and polish, and then step up to God’s throne seeking relationship.

No, we come to Him all dirt-encrusted and dusty.

We do not come defiant in our sin either, demanding His grace while refusing to repent and change.

No, we come humbly aware of our mess and lay down our impure lives and ask for Him to: “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!”  (Psalm 51:2).  We submit to Him and ask that He, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7).

Then He does the work to transform us—a work that He started long ago.

My job as a church choir director comes with a peculiarity.  I listen to Christmas music in June.  Publishers actually start sending me samples of Christmas cantatas the week after Easter each year, but I try to hold off until summer at least hints at making an appearance.

So, there I was last week driving to the public library and listening to a chorus of singers proclaiming, “Peace, hope and joy to the world,” followed by a young woman’s voice narrating the Christmas account.

And I began to cry.  I had to pull myself together in the parking lot before walking with my daughter into story time.

This is no worn out story, frayed by familiarity and dulled by frequent repeating or a sweet little myth I revisit once a year for the sake of tradition.

It’s astonishing news and I can’t help but respond in awe and humble reverence and genuine gratitude every single time I hear it.

Our Holy, Holy, Holy God came near.  His love for us, so passionate and incomprehensible, motivated His sacrifice.  Knowing we could never clean ourselves up enough to spend one second in His presence, He came to us instead because He passionately longed to be with us, His creation.

Paul reminds us of the cost:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  (Philippians 2:5-8).

Any life scrubbing that we do isn’t to make ourselves worthy of a God so holy.  That’s an impossible barrier.

Instead, it’s our worshipful response to His sacrifice.  Because we long to be in His presence, we submit to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we repent, we transform.  This is our worship.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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 © 2012 Heather King

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