I like things neat and orderly. Piles and dirt unsettle me. I clean to find peace. But for the last six months my husband and I have been living in a van, where every cabinet and drawer is full. Books are stored in a cardboard box behind the passenger seat, under the dirty laundry bag. My sister, Maryann, has her own cleaning business, so I called to ask her advice for keeping a small place ship shape.
Her advice: “Don’t have too much junk. We all have so much more than we realize. Ask yourself, what’s in your van that you don’t want; and get rid of those things. Clean one cabinet at a time, rather than the whole space, and then it’s not that bad.”
One of Maryann’s specialties is preparing homes for sale after their owners have passed away. She said, “It is interesting what people save. Many people save stacks of plastic containers. Others save toys, long after their children are grown. One person saved stamps, mistakenly thinking her collection was valuable. Another collected hats.” Maryann said, “Emptying a house is a lot of work, even if the person was neat.”
Maryann often finds stashed cash. Once she found five thousand dollars behind a stereo system. Other times she has found important documents that had been misplaced: a truck title, passports, birth certificates.
Maryann sells what can be sold; donates what can be donated; recycles what can be recycled; and only after all those options are exhausted does she throw things away. When she puts things on the curb for the trash collectors, she is glad when passersby pick them up, so they can be used. Maryann recommends culling your possessions regularly. She says, “If things are orderly, you can be at peace.”
In ancient times, a king named Josiah ordered a massive cleaning project. God’s temple had fallen into ruin. While laborers were cleaning away rubble, they found a misplaced treasure, the Book of the God’s Law, written over six hundred years earlier. When his secretary read the law to him, King Josiah realized how thoroughly his people had abandoned God and his wisdom. In anguish and sincere regret, Josiah tore his robes and wept. A prophetess reassured the king that, although the long-term neglect of God was going to lead to disaster, consequences would be delayed because God had observed Josiah’s responsive heart. King Josiah and all the people, “from the least to the greatest,” went to the temple and Josiah read all the words in the precious book they had found. Together they covenanted to follow the LORD and to keep his commands with all their hearts and souls.
Application: Dear friend, a messy home can make you weary; a messy heart can make you wearier. Each requires regular, thorough cleaning. Another king, named David, wrote a prayer asking for God’s help cleaning his heart. I have sometimes prayed his words, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” The good news is that cleaning a messy heart all at once is not too much work for God.
How could little by little cleaning make your home more peaceful? How could asking God’s help with heart-cleaning help you find soul rest?
The Explicit Gospel (Paperback Edition) by Matt Chandler and Jared C. Wilson