It’s about halfway through a “Big Clean” that I feel like giving up,.
That’s because Big Cleans always make things look way worse before they ever get better.
I’ve been pulling out every scrap of trash from every corner cabinet in our home recently, taking every toy out of a toy box, dusting every book on every shelf.
It seems like such a good idea when I begin. I am energized and enthusiastic. This is the day I conquer the cabinet under the bathroom sink and I determine to declare victory.
I begin by taking everything out of the cabinet and that’s about when it hits me: This is a big job. This is probably a bigger job than I ever anticipated.
Dealing with all the mess is inevitably exhausting and discouraging and a little disheartening.
And maybe I don’t feel like doing it after all.
But at that point, of course, it’s too late. I’m surrounded by piles of “stuff” and it has to be dealt with because there is now no path to the door.
Unless I shove all the mess right back in there, making things worse than they ever were, I simply have to dig deep, take some big breaths of courage and just do it.
Throw out the ancient and the dirty. Donate the never-used. Reorganize the keeps.
Then at the end of the day, my kids come home from school, open the cabinet to grab something and they give me the victory prize: “WHOA! Mom has been cleaning in here!”
This type of roll-up-your-sleeves Big Clean is no easier in our hearts and our minds than it is in our homes.
It’s deeply humbling when the Holy Spirit reveals those hidden, dark corners of sin where trash and refuse have piled up over time.
And this is true, too, sometimes it gets far messier before it ever gets better.
Somewhere in the process, we might want to yell, “Stop!! Just put everything back in the cabinet because I don’t want to deal! It is too painful!”
Maybe that’s what happens when we submit our short tempers to Him, or our impatience, or our worrying, or our judging others, or our need to be in control, or any habit, any sin, any distraction that draws us away from God.
It’s easier to leave it be, but oh, it’s so much better when the Holy Spirit has completed the work and we can come to Him with the ancient things trashed, the dirty things cleaned, and the good things reorganized.
The prophet Hosea wrote about returning to the Lord, about giving up our waywardness and following God with all our hearts.
That’s revival, and personal revival is what I want and need. You too?
“Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
3 Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.”
When I’m knee-deep in a Big Clean in my home and I’m surrounded by books, toys, and the fifty million papers that my children have accumulated, I need these reminders likes Hosea’s.
I keep going because I know it’s worth it. Because there’s no turning back now. Because even if it’s exhausting in the moment, at the end of this, I’ll be better off.
I’ll have neatly stocked cabinets, less overflow of “stuff” in my home, and fewer junk drawers!
In the same way, when God calls us to a hard work, we keep going because He assures us of what’s ahead if we don’t give up:
He can heal us.
He will revive us.
He will raise us up.
We may live before Him.
He is as faithful as the rising sun and He will come to us like the spring rains.
But here’s the most beautiful thing about the revival God does in our hearts.
He does the work.
I’m the one wiping cabinets down with Lysol at my house. I’m the one filling up trash bags and taking boxes of donations to the local thrift store.
But it’s the Holy Spirit who does the work of renewal and revival in us.
We submit. We grant Him access. We acknowledge our sin. We pray for His help when we’re tempted or weary or we want to give up.
We yield and we yield again, but the work does not depend on us. It is His and I am grateful.