Written By: Marieke Jacobi
The other day I voluntarily cleaned someone else’s refrigerator. Yes, it was someone that I like and I was truly happy to help her clean before her move to a new home. The interesting thing was that as I cleaned, I became wrapped up in the imagery of Jesus’ love for us. As I scrubbed, I stopped to pray over this home, the new neighbours who would be moving in soon and the family who was moving out. It was both a satisfying and inspiring experience. How often can you say that about cleaning?
When I opened the fridge, it didn’t look too bad; some crumbs, some small caked-on spills and a few leaves from forgotten vegetables. Removing all of the contents, throwing out anything that had been neglected or gone bad over time, I started to clean. As I did, I noticed more spaces that needed cleaning; the back walls, edges, hard-to-reach corners and underneath the glass shelves. Some of the drawers of the fridge and the attached freezer could be taken out and the filth removed under the pressure of the sink or the bathtub. Some of it was very stuck and required extra force to remove. It took about 2 hours and a whole lot of elbow grease to make this fridge sparkle and shine. It’s amazing what a difference a good scrub made!
Isn’t this just like us? Slowly sin creeps in to the edges and corners of our lives, and when we take a look inside nothing seems out of sorts. No need to clean up, right? Just close the door again. But if we open up the door of our souls and let him, God does a good spring clean.
What happens when I hold that door open and dig deep? Remove all distractions, throw out the rotten influences and take a look at the empty, dirty shelves? Are they ready for new and healthy habits like mercy, humility, justice, compassion and grace? Not really.
Jesus scolds the Pharisees in Matt. 23: 25,26 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First, clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”
So, what does spiritual elbow grease look like? Cleaning out my spiritual cup, my heart, my soul, my eyes, my mind and my body requires a deep trust in the Holy Spirit. His cleansing fire will burn out the impurities and leave me clean, ready for a renewed spirit. I know I could definitely use that good spring clean to remove my rotten pride, my wilting faith, my past-due doubt and my moldy selfish heart. He’ll trash my pride and humble me. Scrub my faith and make it new, replacing my doubt. Polish my heart to make it shine for Him ridding it of the stains of unforgiveness and jealousy. “[She] who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up her soul to an idol…will receive blessing from the Lord.” Ps.24:4,5
“Oh [woman], put your hope in God alone for with the Lord is unfailing love and in Him is full redemption. He himself will redeem [you] from all [your] sins.” Ps. 130:7,8. The Lord lovingly redeems us every day, if we let him.
A good soul cleaning is painful and unpleasant but necessary. It requires humility, repentance, accountability and sacrifice but He promises that it will be good. “He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:27, 28
And so, like the dirty fridge let’s trust God as the fire and water of the Holy Spirit restores us and renews us.