“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
The Untidy Truth About Holiness
A few days ago, we decided at the last minute to temporarily move our weekly neighborhood Bible study from the church basement to our home. For a few reasons, it made sense. But as I glanced from the kitchen to the living room to the pile of shoes by the front door, a low-grade panic swept over me.
I once read a magazine article that said a tidy home should always be just twenty minutes away. If we’re doing our job to keep things respectably clean, it shouldn’t take long to tame our everyday chaos. Testing the theory, I consolidated piles and tossed a few things behind a closed bedroom door. Ten minutes later, seconds before the first guest arrived, our house was presentable enough.
The real truth remained hidden in my dark floors that haven’t been mopped in a very long time and behind the shower curtain, in the tub that is overdue for a good scrub-down. It’s pretty simple to stash our messes out of sight. We can crop our social media photos, shake dry shampoo into our third-day hair, light a fresh candle, and throw the dirty pans in a cold oven.
I’ve almost perfected the modern day art of projecting the image of order while kicking the dust bunnies back under the couch.
If I’m not careful, I do the same with my soul.
I can, and should, remind myself often that my humanity is no surprise to God. He has made His home in me, just as I am. He doesn’t expect perfection. But He’s far more concerned with my sticky floors and smudged walls than with my selection of cute throw pillows meant to distract the eye. My attempts to craft spiritual illusions disgust him.
God is not after our tidiness, but our holiness.
For the past several months He has been hard at work scrubbing my heart, pointing me to a new obedience.
For the past several months, I’ve kept myself busy sorting the junk mail of my soul and folding the towels.
The nudges weren’t making sense. This was no obvious moral failing. But when we sign up to follow Jesus, we throw down our nets in an act of admittance that we don’t know what we need after all. We no longer get to decide. We can fluff and shine all we want, but if our hearts are not tender to the touch of the Holy Spirit, none of that matters.
If I had to guess, I would say my little white house will keep its “lived in” vibe. I reserve the right to creatively conceal our clutter at any time and for any reason.
But when it comes to my heart, I don’t want to waste another day hiding.
The conviction of the Spirit is a beautiful gift, laying bare my inadequacies and wrapping them in the hope of salvation.
Dunk me. Scrub me. Make me new.
Is there something in your life God has been asking you to pull from the shadows? Rather than resisting, what would it look like to simply obey?