October 22, 2011

Cleaning is hard work...

On a Monday morning a few weeks back we received word that we would be having an open house the following Sunday afternoon.  Our first thought was, “No way!  That’s completely impossible.  Have you seen our house lately???”  But after a few hours of pondering, fretting, doubting, and even freaking out, we came to the conclusion that we should forge ahead and make it work.

The contractor had been working on our bathrooms for over a month, yet there was still a bit more to be completed, so we received confirmation that he would make it work from his end to have everything ready in time for the open house.  My parents volunteered countless hours (days) to help sort, throw away, clean up and make beautiful the outside and inside of our home.  Steve and I took a day off of work and plowed through as much as possible, followed up with a number of other evenings and all day Saturday finishing up (almost) everything we could imagine.

Sunday afternoon came… the house was (close to) immaculate… interested families walked through…

Monday came.  Little bits of dust began to accumulate again on the top of furniture, more dirty dishes appeared in the kitchen sink, clothes were worn, and beds were slept in...

Funny how life keeps moving forward!  Just like house cleaning, our lives can get messy, unkempt, tussled, dirty and maybe even out of control.  Cleaning is a daily, minute-by-minute act to choose to follow God’s way and not our own.  It seems much easier to become content in our temporary cleanliness, and before we know it we need a thorough cleaning once again.

God takes us through times of testing and refinement to make us more like Christ.  These times are difficult, but we need to hold on and keep our focus on Him.

The testing will refine, cleanse, and purify those who keep their heads on straight and stay true, for there is still more to come.
Daniel 11:34

Cleaning is hard work.  As I was researching verses with “clean” in them, I found that almost all of the verses talk about God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit as the one who does the actual cleaning!  Recognizing WHO the true cleaning agent is in our lives is refreshing and helps us keep the right perspective…

Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 1:27

As we walk through this season in our lives of building up our team of ministry partners, we can feel overwhelmed.  We were told during our orientation that this time is all about the process that God wants to take us through to effectively prepare us for overseas ministry.  We thanked them and thought we understood what they were saying.  Then a few seasoned missionaries as well as newly on-the-field missionaries also told us that this season is about what God will do in our lives and hearts, NOT about raising our support.  Again, we thanked them.  Here’s a quote from one email:

You have a long and difficult road ahead of you, but it's an amazing and rewarding journey, too. You will be privileged to see God and the Body of Christ move in real ways that most people don't get to see first-hand.

We are now eight months down this road and are just beginning to understand and agree with those who have gone before us and shared.  We are learning that God is purifying our hearts, scrubbing us, stretching us, burning away the chaff, and preparing us for what lies ahead of us.  We are not to be in a hurry.  We are to wait, soak, allow Him to scrub us and fix our broken bones… and then dance and sing His praises!

Just leave, but leave clean. Purify yourselves in the process of worship, carrying the holy vessels of God.  But you don't have to be in a hurry.  You're not running from anybody!  God is leading you out of here, and the God of Israel is also your rear guard.
Isaiah 52:11b-12

Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean, scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life. Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing. Don't look too close for blemishes, give me a clean bill of health. God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don't throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails! Give me a job teaching rebels your ways so the lost can find their way home. Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God, and I'll sing anthems to your life-giving ways. Unbutton my lips, dear God; I'll let loose with your praise.
Psalm 51:6-8

So… we continue the “scrubbing” and will praise Him each step of the way!

*All scripture references are from The Message.

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