“Rumble-rumble, screech, thump!” My mom cocked her head toward the ceiling as she listened to the sounds of my room-cleaning upstairs. I loved to re-arrange my furniture! I well remember our regular Saturday cleaning routine, a requirement before we could pursue other interests, and especially the more thorough spring or fall cleanings.
Howevermuch we may grumble about the cleaning process, or perhaps like some of us who enjoy it, there is great satisfaction in a job completed. Something accomplished!
For everyday cleaning, it’s amazing what even a few minutes of straightening or putting away things can do. Lost or misplaced items are re-discovered, and we no longer have to hunt for them. Dirty clothes in the hamper. Clean dishes put up. A spot of clutter removed. Trash carried out…
Then there is the deep cleaning, removing accumulated dust and grim of everyday living and use. It requires more effort and intentional planning. Neglecting the everyday or more frequent cleaning can make that job a lot harder too!
This makes me think of “heart cleaning.” Am I as conscious of the condition of my heart, such as my thoughts and intentions or faith, as I am of my home or other surroundings? The psalmist pled, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” * Clean or pure; not polluted or filthy. He knew that this was a “deep cleaning” job! This was going to require a lot of help!
It’s so easy to let things accumulate isn’t it? Just like dust or clutter can build up in our home, it can also build up within us. That dissatisfaction or irritation. A wayward word. An apology never offered. An unhealthy thought or grudge. The list can be long!
Just like the everyday cleaning of our home or other places, caring for our daily heart cleaning is a positive step and builds our relationship with God, who knows us best. Paul called attention to our need for the day’s accounting when he cautioned us to not let the sun go down on our anger. *
It’s hard for me to turn loose of things sometimes. When things do accumulate or bowl us over, and they will at times, and when those seasons arrive for the deep cleaning, we don’t have to go it alone. God hears our call and pulls out the heavy-duty cleaners, creating “a new and right spirit” within. My prayer and anticipation for us is that we will invite Him to come on in, and so welcome a new season.
• Calmness brings soothing respite • Words washing like gentle rains will soften the earth • The right ingredients from a pure heart bring healing • Soft words soothe but harsh words destroy • Smooth speech in a vengeful heart covers a drawn sword • A wholesome balance is restored with purposeful application • Joy lights the eyes and shines from soft faces • Doing what comes naturally is not always a positive thing • Healthy habits are both internal and external • For good or ill, we absorb whatever we cover ourselves with • Worries can be sticky and cause severe irritation • We are protected from dryness when we stay close to the Source
from “Reflections from the Everyday” Charlotte-Anne Allen 03/05/2021
The hum of the big exhaust fan in the window of our upstairs hallway signaled the beginning of another summer evening. As night drew closer, the familiar voices and sounds of my family about the house or in the yard were comforting and familiar. In those days of yesteryear, I see myself stretched out on my bed or curled up on my window seat reading a good book or just watching life from my bedroom window. To this day these same things in my own home bring contentment and peace.
We always closed the windows and retreated to the cooler lower floor during the day as summer’s heat began to build around mid-morning. Then, as evening’s cool touch came, the windows were opened, and the fans began to draw out the warm air that had built up in our upstairs rooms through the day. I remember breathing deeply of the cool night’s air as it was drawn in and listening to the sounds of life… the voices of insects, tree frogs, and owls and the rhythm of our small-town. The refreshing coolness brought a sense of peace and renewal, especially if the day had been long or difficult.
The windows of our hearts can be like those rooms on hot summer days. Sometimes we close them – perhaps due to doubt, anger, or fear – as we seek to guard ourselves or to declare our own will. I know that when I am hurt, let down, angry, or disappointed I too tend to withdraw and shut off as much as possible from its source. This may bring some relief for a time, until there is room for healing and the opening of those windows.
As we beat against the ills we see, so that our ears are deafened to all else, God’s cool healing breath washes over our world. May we not fail to see and feel it! There is injustice in this world, but there is also the breath of God. Like those fans, as we open our hearts to God, His breath fills us and draws from us that which is stale and stifling… that which has caused hurt.
Have you considered the breath of God? As in the beginning of time, “then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” *
We are living beings, whom God loves, and He said it was very good. *
My prayer for our world is that we will know God’s refreshing and renewing breath. I pray that He will draw from us that which is stale and stifling, driven by hurt, and fill us with the hope of His Spirit.
When I was a teen, I helped my neighbor clean her home on Saturday mornings. She was a retired teacher and the bit I earned gave me a little spending money. My parents had taught us the importance of keeping our own home as well. We were expected to clean our rooms each week and beds must be made before we went to school or did anything else for the day. Keeping our home clean, and helping outside the home as well, taught us the importance of caring for what we had. Some seasons or days were busier, but the established pattern of keeping our home in order helped ensure that we would catch up. Of course, a bit of prodding and reminders from our parents were sometimes needed!
There was much more involved in keeping a home than cleaning! My dad was a handyman and he made sure the house was cared for, involving all of us in that work as well. Maintaining a home was a continuing job and safety was important too. I remember always checking that the doors were secured each night.
Like keeping our home, keeping our heart is important too, and it impacts how we develop and grow as a person. For me, this is a life-long challenge! What we allow to come in – our thoughts, what we see, and what we listen to – has an effect for good or harm. A favorite verse in Proverbs says, “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” *
Good “heart care” prepares us to face temptations and difficulties in life. Leaving my “windows” wide open to negative or unhealthy influences when storms of life come or when things seem dark does not protect or keep my heart. Throwing open the doors to them allows the prowlers to come in. What situations are we putting ourselves in? What do we listen to each day? What are we watching? … I so need God to help me with this heart work!
God reminds us of the importance of examining our heart and allowing Him to guide and help us. I am thankful to Him for giving us positive influence and support of parents, mentors, friends, and Christian community. We can all help each other to “keep our heart” so that what flows from it is good and life-giving.