Well, finally! Spring has arrived, and with it, that feeling of newness and freshness. Today is the first morning in many months that I have been able to have my quiet time here on the back porch. What a delight! As I sat here early this morning, the coolness of the fresh air and the singing of the birds ushered in a feeling of new life and vitality.
Yesterday I read an article about spring cleaning. The writer shared some tips for cleaning curtains, ceiling fans, and all of those hard-to-reach or difficult-to-clean areas in our homes that we probably only tackle once or twice a year. Some of the tips were for cleaning out the clutter of items we rarely use and reorganizing our spaces.
As I sat here this morning with my Bible, my coffee, and my journal, God began to stir in my spirit the need for a different kind of spring cleaning: my heart. I began to ask God to show me those areas that are difficult to reach – the things in my heart that I don’t readily see or deal with on a regular basis. Sure, I ask God to forgive me of my sin every day and turn my heart away from it and draw me closer to Him.
But there are some areas that hurt, and I don’t like to deal with them – like my pride and insecurity, my fear of rejection and need for approval. Those things that show up in my attitude, even when I don’t realize it. It’s easy to repent of lying or gossip or any sin that is obvious to us on a daily basis. But as with spring cleaning, some areas of our hearts are like those hard-to-reach ceiling fans – just getting dirtier and dirtier but left alone until we are motivated enough to deal with them.
Look at the words of David in Psalm 26:2 and Psalm 139:23:
“Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind…” (NIV).
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (NIV).
The great news is that God knows our hearts, even when we don’t! And He is faithful to forgive us and grant us a new, fresh start.
1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (NIV).
And I love these words from Lamentations 3:22-23:
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (NIV).
God will show us those areas of sin in our lives that maybe we have rationalized or justified in some way. He will gently remind us of those things that maybe we were aware of at one time, but we have sort of left closed up and dusty over a period of time…knowing we need to deal with them, but putting off the real work of acknowledging the sin and turning away from it.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not referring to “work” as something that we do to gain salvation or favor with God.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV).
I am talking about the “work” of searching our hearts and doing the deep-cleaning that leads to the spiritual growth and development that God does in us as Paul referred to in Philippians 2:13:
“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (NIV).
God is so good! Max Lucado once said that God accepts us as we are, but He loves us too much to let us stay there. God calls us to grow in our relationship with Him. We just have to cooperate with Him and allow Him access to those places in our lives. When we confess it, He deals with it! I don’t know about you, but something about spring inspires me to clean out some old, dead areas of sin in my life and allow the Holy Spirit to bring newness.
So I’m doing some spring cleaning today! I’m praying God will show me any area of sin in my life – pride, insecurity, selfishness, destructive thought patterns – anything that keeps me from growing in Him. I’m ready to open up the doors and air out the rooms of my heart and give Jesus a clean place to stay.
I know that, just as with my home, there will still be work to do on a daily basis, but at least I can rest today with that feeling that comes from doing the deep, spring cleaning of the soul. It’s called peace.