“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
I sometimes think back on the house I grew up in as a child. I remember the large picture window on the front of the house. That window looked out from the large living room inside.
That was the room we didn’t actually live in. All of my mother’s really special decorations were in there. The china cabinet that held her china and crystal pieces was in that room. The room had nice patterned winged back chairs and an antique desk. It also had one of the most comfortable couches I have ever sat upon. (I didn’t really know that until I moved out and my parents gave me the couch for my apartment, and I actually sat on it.)
The living room was the room you were invited to sit if you showed up at our house unannounced and the rest of the house was a mess. Guests could be entertained in that room, and never see the clutter and disarray that might be lurking elsewhere. Now my mom was a pretty decent housekeeper, but the living room was always perfect. If you only saw the living room, you might think the rest of the house looked just the same. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t, but the living room was what we showed as representative of the rest of our home.
Sometimes I wish I had a room like my mom’s living room at my house. I don’t. My house is too small, and there are too many people living in it to have such a room. If you walk into my house unannounced, you’re going to see art projects and homework assignments in progress on the dining room table. You’re going to walk into the kitchen and see that my kids don’t always remember how to put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. You’ll see throw blankets and pillows on the floor in the den, and you just might see where the cat has harked up a hairball on the kitchen floor. I try to fight back the mess monster, but sometimes he wins.
I think about my childhood home, and I realize that sometimes I am like that place. Depending on who you are, you may only get to see the perfect living room of my life. I’ve got that area nice and cleaned up; I don’t mind showing you that place, but the doors are closed on the rooms in my life where things get a little messy. I don’t allow just anyone into those areas because they might not like what they see there.
The thing is, if we shut those places off, and never let anyone in to see, we won’t likely ever get around to cleaning them up. It’s just easier to shut the door and ignore what’s going on in there. If we limit access, then we can continue the facade of perfection. I think that’s why Jesus is such a problem for many people. Folks want to allow Him access to the pretty parts, but He want’s unrestricted access to everything. It’s like He doesn’t understand our system. He’s supposed to stay in the parlor, but He asks to see the kitchen, bathrooms, and back bedroom.
During my childhood, every so often, a neighbor would knock on our back door. Uh oh. When my mom would answer the door, I can remember she would say with a sigh, “Come on in, if you can get in”, meaning excuse the mess. This friend had bypassed the front living room, and had been allowed in to where we really lived. And the cool thing about those people is they didn’t seem to mind the mess. Sometimes they even seemed relieved to see it. It was almost like, “Okay, you have a mess, too.”
I think most of us want to put our best foot forward to the world. We want to appear as though we’ve got it all under control, but what if we actually let Jesus in to those messy places? What if we just opened the door and said, “Come on in, if you can get in”? I can tell you, Jesus will and He can. I’ve never seen anyone else come into a messy life and clean it up like He does. He doesn’t just make Himself at home in the mess, He cleans it up. How about that for a deal? My best friend is really awesome, but she’s never just come over to my house and cleaned it up for me. (Tammie, if you’re reading this, the key is under the mat. Knock yourself out.)
I can tell you, cleaning up those dirty places in your life is hard work. There’s lots of stuff you have to let go, things to toss out, stuff that needs some light and shown the door. It’s not particularly easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Maybe it’s time to open some doors. I mean for some, Jesus has been knocking a long time. He’s not tired, but aren’t you?