Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
I remember well the earliest days of Spring as a kid. Whether at my mom’s house or later living with my grandparents, the same weird thing would happen. Both my mom and grandmother would start looking for dirt. Not the outside kind but the inside. Those cob webs, window sills, closet floors, back porches and dresser drawers were the first targets. Man, they both had that “look” of “Mr. Clean” about them. Scary! There were words used like: spring cleaning, painting the kitchen, new curtains and somehow, I just knew that a lot of this would concern me. Lord, I wished so many times I had a sister!
When spring arrives, more sunlight brightens your home as the days grow longer, and fresh air blows in once the temperatures warm up enough to open your front door as to welcome a breath of fresh air. But all the light and fresh air reveal what you may not have noticed during the dark, cold days of winter: Your house is a mess. It’s not fun to see the clutter and dirt that needs to be cleaned up around your house, but the lighter and air that flow in, the more motivated you are to do some spring cleaning.
Spring cleaning can be more than just a chore, however, it can show us in a spiritual way how cluttered and (we don’t want to admit it) what’s hiding in the corners and closets of life. We can actually use the time to start cleaning up something far greater than your house: your soul. The closer you get to Jesus – the Light of the world – and the more you invite the Holy Spirit to blow the fresh air of His love into your life, the more you become aware of how messy your soul has become. Thankfully, there’s no sin too messy for God to clean up when you follow His divine cleaning plan of confession, repentance, and reconciliation.
So while you’re spring cleaning your house, invite God to clean your soul. Here’s how:
Eliminate clutter. Get rid of distractions that block your intimacy with God. Take an honest look at what might be interfering with making your relationship with God your top priority. Are you devoting more time and energy to working, watching TV, shopping, playing sports, socializing with friends, pursuing a hobby, or something else than you’re devoting to time with God? How much time are you really spending doing activities that nurture your connection with God, such as praying; participating in church; and reading, studying, and meditating on the Bible? Are frazzled thoughts cluttering your inner life, or are you making time regularly for quiet reflection, and asking the Holy Spirit to renew your mind? Eliminate clutter in your schedule and your mind to create space to focus on what’s truly important.
Scrub away dirt and disinfect. This is the hardest part. Cleanse dirty attitudes and behaviors and purify your soul. What kinds of unclean attitudes are lurking in your soul? Are you harboring bitterness against people who have hurt you? Do you entertain judgmental thoughts about people you don’t like? Are you infected with anger, fear, or selfishness? How do impure behaviors affect your life? Are you struggling with a bad habit or even an addiction that causes trouble whenever it rears its ugly head? Pray about each dirty attitude and behavior, asking God to help you clean up each specific one. Whenever negative thoughts enter your mind, purposefully replace them with positive ones that reflect biblical truth. Whenever you’re tempted to slide back into a bad behavior, pray for God to empower you to resist and overcome temptation.
Vacuum. Suck up everyday annoyances and persistent resentments that will stain your soul if you let them accumulate. Keep short accounts with people rather than letting issues between you pile up and spill over into dirty arguments. Ask God to help you learn how to deal well with difficult people and those whose personalities differ significantly from yours. Whenever people offend you in minor ways, be willing to let the issues go. Whenever people offend you in major ways, be willing to forgive them and reconcile if possible. Remember that God expects you to forgive others since He has forgiven you. Trust Him to empower you through each step in the forgiveness process. Do all you can to live at peace with others and resolve conflicts quickly and wisely.
Dust. Wipe away old dirt of the past that is hindering you from moving into the future with confidence. Ask God to show you ways you need healing from past traumas and losses. Then patiently work through the healing process as God leads you. Expect that each time you deal with one layer of dust from your past, you can see a bit more clearly as you move into the future.
Polish. Make your relationships shine by serving others as God leads you. Be creative about figuring out how often you can bless others through your words and actions. Remember that even a brief encouraging comment or small act of kindness can make a significant, positive difference in someone’s life. Every day, look for opportunities to encourage or help the people with whom you come into contact.
Organize. Rearrange your life so you find “the time.” Clear out your own agenda and invite God to show you His dreams for your life. Then build your decisions for how to use your resources (time, energy, talent, money, etc.) around pursuing those things, so you can focus on what’s important without being sidetracked by what’s urgent. Set specific and measurable goals to help you move closer to fulfilling God’s desires for you. Check your progress regularly, and make whatever adjustments you need to make to keep your life organized well.
It’s a great big job. Isn’t it? Yet, when you see the final outcome, nothing compares to a “clean house” where God resides.