Our house seems like it stays messy. Our three young children are partly, ok mostly, to blame for this (although, I have to confess that I have the tendency to put my clean clothes up once a week). Dirty clothes, toy cars, Legos, light sabers, movie boxes, Sippy cups, kid Tervis Tumblers, chip bags, craft clippings, ipods, blankets, etc., become stationary figures throughout the day. It really is unbelievable how a clean house can become untidy thirty minutes after the kids arrive home from school. When it comes to messes, you do not have to teach children how to make a mess. However, you do have to teach them how to clean one up. Messes naturally happen, but cleaning one up is a different story. I haven’t seen any child inherently want to cleanup their mess; they much rather leave it. Thus, cleaning doesn’t happen naturally. It takes understanding, intentionality and energy. And most of all cleaning up messes takes a willingness and obedience.
Household messes provide an example for the messes of our lives. Truthfully, our lives are messy because of sin and brokenness. By nature, we are sinners; therefore messes naturally occur. Our messes can be manifested in a variety of fashions—spiritually, emotionally, mentally, relationally, physically, martially, and vocationally. Just like toys, blankets, dishes, clothes, and dirt find themselves all over our house making it messy, so too does negative thoughts, dirty words, lust, anger, bitterness, pride, selfishness, greed, jealousy, etc. find their way into our lives making them messy.
Like I said, making messes are easy; cleaning them up is another story. I don’t know about you, but I have seen the cleanup efforts of our young children. They get an A—for A(ttempted) and borderline A(wful). Why that grade? Because, the blankets find themselves half-way in the hamper (not to mention having bent the hamper in the process), most of the Legos are placed back into the Lego bin while leaving fifteen smaller pieces all over the floor, dishes find their way [at least] to the sink, the couch is left crooked from where the older one dove for a self-directed pass as if he is Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos, Cheetos crumbs are still on the floor, a stray sock is left under the couch, a couple of cars are left stranded on the floor, and our four remotes are in the four corners of the living room.
If we left our children to clean up their messes on their own, it would just be a matter of time before our house became completely and utterly chaotic and out-of-control. Given the fact that we (ok, Joannie) know(s) how we want the house to look and have prescribed where the things should go, we coach and help them cleanup their mess. As a result, the cleanup process requires most of all obedience from our children, which is accompanied with understanding, intentionality and energy.
When it comes to straightening and cleaning up the messes of our lives, it will require our obedience to the Lord as we surrender to him. Our obedience and surrender, through the Holy Spirit, will lead us to seek the Lord in understanding how he wants our lives to function and be ordered in every area. In addition, once we begin understanding how he wants us to live and order our lives, we must begin applying ourselves to his sanctification process with great intentionality and energy. In other words, allowing God to cleanup our lives requires great effort and discipline on our part—not to mention great humility. It’s important to keep in mind that the messes of our lives have been made by us, thus they will not be cleaned up in our own ingenuity or effort; but rather, the cleanup of our lives is led, monitored, and empowered by our loving Father, our gracious and great Savior and King, and his powerful Spirit.
Here are two questions to ponder when it comes to our messy houses (lives) and our cleansing Savior. First, will we recognize the mess or messes in our lives? Second, will we, under the Lordship of Jesus and the direction and empowerment of the Spirit allow him to cleanup our mess or messes? In the end, we must keep in mind, the bad news is that our houses (our lives) are messy, but the good news is that Jesus has come to cleanup our mess for his glory and our and others’ good!