Today, I sweep the floors and clean the toilets in the House of the Lord. There are times when the enemy of my soul would try to throw me into the pit of discouragement with thoughts like – “how are the mighty fallen!” But the Word says – “I would rather be a door-keeper in the House of the Lord....”. Lord, give me the heart of a servant, that I would joyfully complete any task that You set before me, without regard to how menial it may seem to be.
I notice that, as I sweep the tiled floor of the fellowship hall, the residue that is left behind the broom becomes so startlingly apparent. The ball of fluff that escaped the broom’s first pass now appears to be so obvious. I realize that I hadn’t previously noticed that candy-wrapper in the corner. And I think – that’s a lot like our lives, isn’t it Lord? The more You work to “clean us up”, the more the residue of sin becomes apparent in our lives. At a cursory glance, before the cleaning process began, we would never even have noticed the presence of the certain sins in our lives. Now, because most of the ‘dirt’ is gone, what remains becomes so clearly evident. But Lord, may we never fall into the pit of despair, where we think – “what’s the use, we’ll never be perfectly clean!” Rather, Lord, may we determine to be patient with ourselves, and yielded to the ‘broom’ of Your Word as it is applied to our lives by the Holy Spirit. There will be hidden things in our lives that only become apparent as Your Word cleanses us more thoroughly. So, may the cry of our hearts be – “Search me, O God ... and cleanse me from all unrighteousness”.
I plug-in the vacuum to clean the foyer carpet, and wonder at the power that is behind the rushing wind that the machine creates. Lost in my endeavors, I am startled by the sudden silence of inactivity. Turning to find the cause of the momentary stillness, I instantly detect the problem. In my haste to complete the task, I have moved too far from the electrical outlet and the power cord has ‘popped-out’ of the wall socket. Sometimes that happens in our lives, doesn’t it Lord? We become so engrossed in ‘doing our job’, that we fail to see just how far we have become distanced from our Power Source. Somewhat dismayed, we seek the cause of the spiritual immobility in our lives, and it soon becomes apparent that we have simply wandered too far from the One who is the source of all power. Embarrassed at our lack of awareness, we ruefully reconnect to the Power, and gratefully find that, instantly we are fully restored to continue the task at hand.
I enter the nursery, and a sudden sentiment of excitement grips me as I consider the potential in each of the precious lives that are confined here each week. I see the toys strewn carelessly about the floor. The scene invokes so many wonderful memories of our child-rearing days. Children are so carefree. What we adults perceive to be a ‘mess’, children accept as ‘normal’, even ‘comfortable’. The need for order never occurs to them, so that when disorder is evident, they tend to overlook it. That is, until someone older and much wiser comes and says – “oh my, look at this mess – let’s see what we can do to clean it up.” Such a statement so often invokes a response of “But it is clean!”. Lord, thank-you for your patience with us when we’ve made a mess of our lives. When the quiet, gentle voice of the Holy Spirit suggests that we endeavor to set our lives in order, help us to see the situation through Your eyes. May we never become so content with the disorder in our lives that we become defensive or discouraged with your words of correction. Rather, let our response be - Lord, if You are willing, (and we know that is Your desire) You can make me clean!
Thank-you Lord, for the innocence of children. Children are so trusting, and, generally, so open to instruction. Doesn’t Your word say “unless we become like little children, we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven”? Help us, each day Lord, to become as the children are – able to trust You to know where You are leading us. Holding that awesome reverence that Father is infallible. Willing to accept what You are doing in our lives, and listening obediently for Your words of direction for our lives.
Entering the ‘sanctuary’, I view all of the empty pews – and I pray “Lord, may there be a day when every one of these will be filled to capacity with people who desire to praise You. Fill each one of us, Lord, with a hunger that draws us to Your house, week after week. I straighten the hand-crocheted doily on the communion table and I thank-you, Lord, that we always have direct communion with You. May it not be just a once-a-month ritual, but let it be a daily practice – to remember the great price that You paid to obtain our salvation. As I dust the pulpit, Lord, I pray that Your word would always be ‘rightly divided’ in this place, that your people would receive the milk of the word, and the spiritual meat they need for everyday nourishment and growth. I concentrate now on the piano – an instrument with eighty-eight different keys. Each one has a unique tone, and it occurs to me that such is the structure of Your church. Whether our numbers are great or small, each of us has a distinct task to perform. When some of the keys are played together, the church is filled with sweet harmony. At other times, the simultaneous combination of certain keys creates painful discord. Let us ever surrender to You, Lord, as the Master Musician, who is able to use every key, at the proper time, to create a symphony of worship and praise to Your Name. And above all, Lord, let this temple be filled with Your glory, so that when Your people leave this place, they will shine as lights to a dark world, and the world will know that we have been with Jesus.
I return the mop and the broom to the closet, and turn once again to feel the holy hush of the building. Once more, I am reminded that this is Your house, Lord, and I thank-you for the privilege of serving You in this way. It may not be the job that everyone dreams of doing some day, but it was good to spend this time with You, alone in this place, serving only You!