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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Opening Doors to the Messy Places

A while back, my three-year-old granddaughter, Grace, faced a harsh disturbance. No, she didn’t come down with any sickness, nor did she break a bone. Neither had her brothers taken her toys, heaven forbid.

This time, Grace was denying passage into her bedroom. Sitting on the tiled floor in the hallway, the door shut behind her, she stretched her little arm across the entrance and pressed her hand against the doorframe. The youngest protestor.

Every quarter or so, her dad blesses the family by hiring a husband and wife team to professionally deep clean the house. This day, Grace said, No, and her adorable pout could’ve softened Attila the Hun. Her reasoning? She feared these strangers would touch her sheets and blankets.

Who doesn’t need a deep clean once in a while?

“I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit … that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.” Ephesians 3:16 (MSG, emphasis mine)

The Apostle Paul prayed for believers to be strengthened and to know the height, width, length, and depth of God’s love, a growth process that involves bravely inviting a Holy God into the most vulnerable and messy parts of us. Into the intimate places where we make our bed. Where, in the dark of night, we dream and wrestle with the aftermath of that day’s affairs. Where we cry ourselves to sleep and occasionally suffer nightmares. A place where some use their imagination to conceive unholy ambitions that will hinder their maturity. 

Jesus longs to come in and do a deep clean. Is there a “room” He cannot enter? Like the unknowing three-year-old, how often do we protest God’s deep clean that would restore a pure environment for refreshment and increased intimacy with the Lord? 

When I take time to search my heart, I encounter that vulnerable area that I think I’ve got under control. I manage it through worrying and over-thinking. Unwittingly, or perhaps knowingly, I stretch my arm across the door to that room in my heart and resist Love. Just as little Grace, who thinks as a child, I misinterpret God’s intentions toward me. But when nothing gets better, I complain, “Lord, why did You let this happen?”

“For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants. In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing,” Philippians 2:14-15 (TLB, emphasis mine)

In everything. That’s a tall order. When I’m complaining and arguing, I’m not believing or obeying. My protesting then sabotages my maturity process. 

Friends, I’m done with complaining and arguing. I desire a clean room. The Holy Spirit is here to help me to will and do the Father’s pleasure. Knowing Jesus is making Himself at home in me, I can rejoice in everything. 

How did Grace’s story end? She took six dolls with her on an outing while the work was being done at home, sparing her prized possessions from the cleaners’ scrutiny. Upon returning to her bedroom, she cautiously looked around to assure herself everything was in place, then she took a nap in peace. Yes, a nap, in the cherished bed and blanket she’d tried in vain to “protect.” She now understood her father had plans for her well-being, not for bad. Her room was clean, and all was well with her soul.

When a season of the Lord’s cleansing and purifying our hearts comes to an end, we’ll probably feel like napping, too.

Is there an area of your heart you’ve been blocking? Jesus wants in.

Are your prayers more like complaints? Remember Who is at work within you.

…in everything.

Copyright © July 2018 J. A. Marx, used with permission.

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