Its that time of year again. Time to admit that my Cosby sweater from 1989 may finally be on its last legs and ready to throw out (no matter how painful that may be for me). In truth, I actually like spring cleaning – well at least the results of the spring cleaning. Getting there is not always so fun. The idea of spring cleaning is often a lot more appealing than the actual work involved in doing it.
My wife and I had been talking about redoing our bedroom for several years now. For us this means moving things around, not buying a new suite of bedroom furniture. But like all projects of this sort, once you get started there is no stopping until everything is in a new spot. Once you move one thing, you have to move something else and its like dominoes – nothing is as it was. As we got started, I realized another reason that we had not taken on monumental task earlier. When you move something, dirt seems to appear out of nowhere. When I say dirt, I mean dust balls, cat hair and all the things that used to be on top of my dresser that I cannot find for some crazy reason. So of course moving stuff meant having to clean every square inch of our room as we went along. It is amazing how a wall that looked like it needed to be repainted suddenly came to life again after simply being wiped down with a clean rag. Once we were done, we both agreed that things looked great, that we could never let things get that dirty again and that it might be several years until we took on a project of that magnitude.
As I applied the lessons of this “joyous” experience to my own life, I realized that spring cleaning is a good idea on a personal level. Taking time once a year to step back, look at the cobwebs and dirt that has collected and begin dealing with these issues in a prayerful manner sounds like a worthwhile endeavor. Having said that, I have a feeling that the process may be just as arduous as working on my bedroom, but likely to have more lasting and life impacting results. So here are some questions that I will be using in this process:
1. What are the blind spots in my life where dirt seems to collect most quickly?
2. What disciplines have I abandoned (like vacuuming regularly in the bedroom) that I need to recommit to in my life?
3. What people do I need to reconnect with in order to clean up relational messes?
4. What temptations do I need to recognize that distract me from have a God centered life?
5. What habits do I need to throw away like worn out sweaters to be replaced by new behaviors?
As I look at this list, I recognized one key missing ingredient for real spiritual spring cleaning in my life. The powerful work of the Holy Spirit. If I try to tackle these issues in my own strength, I have a feeling that this process will be DOA and look a lot like my bedroom did a year ago – lots of intention, but no real action. Learning to totally surrender my will to his and live daily in his strength is not natural. I like being in control. As I learn to do this, one thing at a time, I truthfully am looking forward to the outcome more than the process. The irony is that God cares just as much about the process as the outcome, no matter how painful it may be for me. He sees the end at the beginning and knows the results in advance. I can’t see what will happen tomorrow and am just learning to trust him one step at a time – one baby step at a time.