For as long as I can remember, my Mother gave me chores to do around the house. From early on, my job was to set the table for dinner. The fork, knife, and spoon had to be on the plate’s right sides, along with a napkin. After dinner, I helped clear the table, wipe it off and help with the dishes.
Saturday was the day that I was to clean my room, although I had to make sure I made my bed every day. As I was little, it didn’t have to be perfect, but I had to do my best. Since Monday was wash day, my job was to help fold the dry clothes and put them away. Always something to do!
I grew in delight in having my belongings in the right place. My books and jewelry box were in the right spots in my bookcase headboard of my bed. The alarm clock was at a perfect angle that I could see it, and I couldn’t see a spec of dust on the furniture. There were never loose strings or things on the floor. My Mom’s inspections always came back with a gold star, meaning I had done an excellent job.
Somewhere along the line, it became less important to me as I became a pre-teen and into my teen years. I found that my dusting, straightening up, and running the sweeper in my bedroom became a little less than my best work. Magazines would end up on the floor by the bed, and the bedspread wasn’t relatively as straight as it used to be when I was younger. I tended to dust around things on my dresser instead of taking everything off and giving it a good cleaning. I didn’t always take the time to empty the garbage can. This inferior job seemed good enough for me, and I was just glad to get the job done. This behavior change became a tiny area of contention between my mother and me. I no longer received the gold star status, but more like ‘you can do better than that’ work. Often, I had to do it over until it was right.
Last Thursday, our Women’s Bible Study discussed Mary and Martha, friends of Jesus from Luke 10:38-42. “While Jesus and his disciples were traveling, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his message. By contrast, Martha was preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal. So Martha came to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to prepare the table all by myself? Tell her to help me.” The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.” It was a common thought that there is some of Mary and Martha living in all of us. We want to sit and listen to the stories and visit with our guests, but the dinner also needs prepared.
Imagine this story in today’s world. Here we are, in a pandemic, and most of us aren’t leaving our house for much more than the necessities and we aren’t having company come into our homes.
It could have been a day just like today. I spent a little extra time having coffee, watching the news, checking on emails, doing devotions, made a couple of telephone calls. Hence, I was a little later than usual in getting myself entirely ready for the day. Had the doorbell rang, I would have been a little embarrassed to answer the door with my hair not fixed to my liking, housecoat still on, and no makeup on my face. The breakfast dishes were on the counter. I left a blanket tossed onto the bench that I used to cover myself last night. Slippers were on the floor. A book was lying on the side table, along with some mail. The house wasn’t exactly in a condition that I would hope it to be in to entertain guests. There was nothing out of the freezer for dinner, and we hadn’t done the grocery shopping for the week.
Knock, knock… ‘Hello? John, Jesus, and the disciples are here for a visit!!” WHAT?? Do I let them in and still run around and pick up? It would hardly be polite to have them stand on the front porch and wait! Would you mind having a seat while I clean up and get dressed? Are you staying for supper? Do you like pizza? Is there anything that you wouldn’t want him to see? Is there any dirty laundry of any kind that is right out in the open? Is there maybe a book on your bookshelf that may be less than pleasing to him? What’s on your computer screen, and would he approve? What about the clutter in our homes and our lives?
This scenario sounds rather funny, but what would you do if the God Almighty who created Heaven and Earth dropped by unannounced to spend some time with you at your home?
During this time of Lent, as we wait upon Holy Week’s events, many people give up things in their life to spend time with God. Maybe some habits add to our daily routine, such as helping someone with a project, doing a devotion, reading a book about Easter, or something else. Some do a deep cleaning of their homes to re-examine themselves and ask the Lord to help them clean out their lives’ bad habits.
We not only need to keep our homes relatively neat and orderly for us to have peace of mind and soul, but our hearts can be full of things that we need to get rid of, also. 1 Corinthians 6 tells us that “don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit from God, and you don’t belong to yourselves? You have been bought and paid for, so honor God with your body.” Is our temple adequately cleaned out to make room for Him?
As long as we’re straightening up our homes in the event of unexpected visitors, we must spend some time cleaning up our hearts and minds, as well, to invite Christ to live within us. Is there fear lurking, hate, anger, the need to be correct, or bitterness taking up way too much space in our hearts and the real estate of our heads?
Let’s not wait until Saturday to clean the rooms of our hearts. Let’s start today, and open with curtains, let the light shine in, and “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10. What’s interesting is that same verse in the Message, and it states, “Soak me in your laundry, and I’ll come out clean, scrub me, and I’ll have a snow-white life. Tune me into foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing. Don’t look too close for blemishes; give me a clean bill of health. God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Please don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails! Give me a job teaching rebels your ways so the lost can find their way home. Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God, and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways. Unbutton my lips, dear God; I’ll let loose with your praise.”
I’ve always been intrigued by this picture of Jesus knocking on the door. What do you notice at first glance at this picture?
There is no doorknob on the outside of the door. In order for him to enter our lives, we’ve got to open the door from the inside. We have to make the effort to just open the door and let him in.
Let’s open that door today and “Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing.”
Be blessed to be a blessing to others,