Sometimes I think I’m a hotel housekeeper, my family members long-term guests who breeze in just long enough to drop wet towels on floors and rumple beds. This thought stuck me the other day while cleaning the bathroom and I amused myself by putting a “courtesy fold” in the toilet paper, wondering if anyone would notice. Plunking a devotional booklet on the tank, I likened myself to a Gideon- leaving the Gospel there in the hopes that those passing through would read it.
Scrubbing the shower, I thought about my hotel metaphor a bit more and decided it didn’t fit perfectly. After all, if this were a hotel, surely this perpetually shedding dog would not be permitted, and if I were a housekeeper, I would be allowed to punch out at some point. Also, I would get a tip occasionally. Still, everyone does look to me for clean sheets and towels and new bars of soap.
Of course I am more to my family than a housekeeper, but it is easy to get to feeling like my only purpose in life is to clean. Indeed, many a night I’ve lain in bed wondering, “Did I do anything but pick-up, wipe-up, and mop-up today?” My days are full of hand-printed walls, mud-caked floors, fur-covered couches, and laundry-filled hampers. Years ago, my mother picked up my messes, but since I married, the only people who have cleaned up after me were the nurses at the hospital where I had my babies. For the most part, cleaning up is my job.
It isn’t as if I don’t like my role of stay-at-home mom. I love it, and when in a proper relationship with God, I do it joyfully; content with the life He has given me. However, when I neglect my time with the Lord, I inevitably get selfish and begin to think things like, “Why do I have to do all this stuff? No one appreciates it. Aren’t they supposed to ‘rise up and call me blessed?’ Can’t someone clean up my messes once in awhile?” When I am in this state, a pile of clothes dropped next to the hamper, rather than in it, can make me think downright evil thoughts.
That morning, in the shower, I sensed that my cynical hotel musings were the beginnings of a bad attitude. After peeling off my rubber gloves, I retrieved the devotional booklet from the tank lid. “Maybe I need this more than they do,” I admitted.
I retreated to a nearby room and flopped on an unmade bed to read. That day’s devotional instructed me to read 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
“Well, what do you know?” I thought, “Someone does clean for me.”
Meditating on the verse, I pondered all of the cleansing work of Christ. It began in my life twenty-six years ago, when I removed the “Do not disturb” sign from my heart and let Him in. He had been waiting patiently in the hall, wanting to take away the putrid linens and replace them with pure white. He washed away all of my filthy sin, His blood, the most powerful cleaning agent of all time. I couldn’t have done it myself, not with any amount of scrubbing, so He did it for me.
Day by day, He keeps working, picking up the clutter of jealousy, envy and selfishness polluting my heart. He wipes away the dusty layer of sinful thoughts that settle continually in my mind. Then, He chips away at the stubborn pride that clings to my soul like burnt food on a roasting pan.
I was humbled, thinking of the sacrifice made to wash away my sin and my lord’s gracious daily maintenance of my soul.
“Lord, I’ve been so bitter, thinking that my family takes me for granted, and all along, I’ve been taking You for granted. Please forgive me.”
I could never do this kind of cleaning myself. I am as helpless and needy before God as a baby who depends on his mother for changing and bathing. Praise God that He never “punches out” and He won’t quit His housekeeping until I have checked out of this hotel of flesh and moved into my permanent residence, a heavenly mansion that never needs dusting.
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