Updated: Jan 1
My first and only daughter just turned five. From the time she was a baby I have been showing her how to put her toys away. But when it comes time to straightening out her room, she wants me to do it for her. The scenario goes the same every time. I start cleaning, and she starts playing with things that I find. Several days ago, I decided that enough is enough. She is old enough to clean her own room. I gave her a quick briefing: “Dolls go in the bin, dirty clothes in the hamper, shoes in the closet, and just put the clean clothes on your bed!” She protested but soon realized that I meant business. I left the room completely unsure of what would happen. When I came back, I was thrilled to find her room looking neat and tidy! I told her how proud I was of her work. My naïve, first-time-mom reaction didn't last very long, however. I discovered all of the contents of the room hidden in a swirled pile of wreckage under her bed.
If you have children, you've probably experienced the same circumstance. A majority of us have done this ourselves. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree in my case. I began reminiscing about how I used to do this as a child. For some reason, I also had the logic that a quick fix was good enough to clean my room. Never mind that it made more of a mess in the long run. Now there were lost shoes and unmatched socks. Toys could go missing for months in this abyss. But the worst thing was knowing that my room really wasn't clean. It was all a show in order to make myself look presentable to my parents or friends.
Although this problem of clutter is frustrating and makes life a bit more difficult, there is a much bigger dilemma I see in myself and many of my Christian acquaintances:
This is the problem of spiritual clutter. This clutter can manifest itself in different ways in each of us. What do I mean by this? It is the sin in our life that we just can't seem to get rid of.
Maybe it plagues you each and every day, or perhaps it just shows up when you're having a bad day. Do you find yourself losing the battle against gossip, lust, exaggeration, or even hatred? If you do, you are not alone! Hope is not lost. God has given us the tools we need to clean house - His house, our body, His temple. Let's make the choice not to sweep the dust under the rug or hide the clutter under the bed anymore.
Friends, let me begin by telling you that this is also a daily struggle for me. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning underneath habits that I have accumulated and practiced for years. Stuffing it away and pretending nothing is there doesn’t work. Checking off a list of Christian “things” and justifying myself is also not the right replacement for true resolution. All of these so-called solutions merely make the matter worse, confusing things and leaving me with a bigger mess on the other side. Realizing that God’s Word has all of the answers and works for all situations is the only true remedy. Whether you have been to church your whole life, or have just met Jesus recently, let me assure you that His Word, the Bible, is always true. It doesn’t change. The more we trust and do as the Word tells us, the more we will be changed and consumed by His love. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Lets look at some principles for deep cleaning:
1. This cleanup is a daily battle!
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:2
No one is going to reach perfection. But if you are caught running on a treadmill of defeat, rest assured that God is able to pull you out of that rut. It is His desire that each of us glorifies Him and learns to depend on Him more and more each day. Perhaps the struggles in your life will be the very thing that show you how much you need Him. Perfection isn't the goal during this life. One day, when we meet Christ, He will make us perfect. Until then, we should continually be growing in our love and desire toward Jesus. We will all have times of failure on this journey. But God has open arms. He wants us to come to Him and tell Him what we have done. He will forgive us and clean us like only He can.
2. Identify the Sin and Talk to God
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:9
I have the reoccurring problem of worry. I found myself making excuses for my uneasiness. I was convinced that I couldn’t help the fact that I was a natural born worrier. But the Bible is filled with commandments that tell me not to worry. For example, Psalm 37: 8 says, “do not fret—it leads only to evil.” I was shocked when I first discovered this verse. Did I actually have a “choice” not to worry? This verse is very clear that fretting is harmful to me and my family when I choose to entertain it. It is a habit and a choice. The truth is, all of our sins harm us and those around us. Most importantly, they separate us from the relationship God longs to have with us. Even if no other person ever knew about our sin, God sees it. He wants us to give those things to Him, and honestly admit our failures. We are invited by the Savior to spend time talking to him about all of the things that trouble us! And He is right there to pick us up and clean us off.
3. Replace the Sin
When troubling thoughts and temptations come, we need to have a plan of action. My fear and anxiety did not just disappear. In fact, I still battle it. But now, instead of giving in, I am able to go to my Heavenly Father. As I begin to thank Him for the safety and blessings He has already provided, my worry about the future soon fades.
Friend, if you are struggling with something, find some specific Bible verses that specifically address the problem that you are facing. An easy way to do this is to do a search in a Bible app. Most of them have a search bar that will answer the question, “What does the Bible say about…?” (I love You Version!) Write these verses on an index card. Have them available when you need them. Memorize them. Then do what they tell you to do! If you have a problem with forgiveness, begin by asking God to help you want to forgive. Instead of thinking about the ways that they hurt you, begin praying for them. The action of replacing sin will be different for each person. It may help to brainstorm ideas with a Christian mentor or friend. Reach out to someone because we all need encouragement from others!
This may sound challenging or even impossible to you. But you are not in this alone! God did give us instructions on how to fight this battle. He is fighting for you. His Spirit is our power, and it is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead! God never leaves us alone. When we choose to follow His way, He makes it possible. Be prepared to put your toe in the ocean of His love for you.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. - Ephesians 1:18-21
Jamie is the sister of Jenn. She is the cooler of the two sisters. Jamie is an English school teacher for children with English as a secondary language. She has a Bachelor's in English and often helps Jenn with writing errors. She currently resides with her husband of eleven years, her daughter, and her little dog named Lulu.