Column: Cleaning our closets
February 12. 2013 5:26PM
Do you ever get that Spring Fever that causes you to want to do some spring cleaning around your house? I do. I know that it is only February, but I am l-o-n-g-i-n-g for spring. Maybe some of you can resonate with that.
One spring-cleaning task is the dreaded closets in our house. It never ceases to amaze me how cluttered those spaces can get over the course of a year. One day I asked my 5-year-old son to help me clean out his closet – one that was filled with clothes that had fallen off their hangers, toys that were outside of their toy box, towels that belonged in the bathroom and missing shoes that had lost their match. After working on his closet for five minutes, he bounced down the stairs and proudly announced, “I’m all finished.” I accompanied him to his room to find a closet that appeared cleaned. However, I couldn’t understand how quickly he was able to put everything away – until I checked under his bed. And, there it was; the closet mess was hiding under the bed. My son was very proud that his closet was clean and neat, or so it appeared. After instructing my son on the proper way to clean his closet, I set out to lend him a helping hand to help him clean up the mess. If we are honest we would admit that we like to present a tidy appearance to the world, that our lives are all put together, neat and orderly. But the truth is we all have closets. And sometimes those closets are filled to the brim with the messiness of life.
This week is the beginning of our Lenten Season, a time where we begin our journey to the cross to experience the love of Jesus and to celebrate His victory over death. This week we come together for Ash Wednesday, a time where we remember that from dust we were created and to dust we shall return. It is also a time to focus on our walk with the Lord.
Sometimes we become more concerned about what others think about us than what the Lord thinks about us. We want to look good on the outside, but often fail to clean up what’s on the inside. In the Gospel of Matthew 23:25, Jesus warns about trying to look good on the outside when the inside lies in ruins. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.”
Lent is a time of self-examination to realize our sins and to ask God for forgiveness. It is a time to truly examine the motives of our heart, to clean out the cobwebs of our inner closets and to put things back in order. It is also a time to remember that we need God and are dependent on Him. Maybe you have strayed away from God. Maybe you have things that you are secretly hiding in your closet. Maybe you are harboring pain, resentment and un-forgiveness. Maybe you are trying to clean up your closet so it is presentable to others, but the mess under the bed is growing.
Like a loving parent, God sees the mess, and yet He does not leave us to “clean it up” on our own. God has given us instruction on how to prevent the messes in our lives. Those instructions are found in the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20). And, even when we fail to keep the commandments that He has set before us, He extends His grace to us.
We are all sinners with messes in our closets. I encourage you to take part in the Lenten journey this year. With the recent snow, it seems we are still far away from spring.
But, cleaning our closets can take place right now. Jesus cares about you and He wants to help you. He sees the mess and He is ready to take on the cleanup project. Jesus loves you so much. That is why He gave His life for you, so that you may know Him and experience the gift of eternal life with Him in Heaven. That is why we celebrate Easter, the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ through His victory over death.
But, before we get to the celebration, a preparation must take place. Ask God to help you clean up the inside of your heart so that the light of Jesus can shine through you. Our Lenten journey is to help us realize our need for God and commit ourselves to grow in faith in His Son, Jesus. And in so doing, we can be assured that God will never leave us or forsake us. He is right here to help us. I also encourage you to get connected with a local church so that you may be surrounded by others who have also been undergoing this cleanup project.