Though my house has never reached hoarding capacity, there’ve been times my heart has. Sadly, I’ve been known to harbor offenses when God calls me to forgive, to rehash old hurts when God beckons me to heal, and to nurse all those ugly heart-cluttering sins like pride and selfishness when the Spirit works to purge them from me. Clutter, of any variety, has a way of piling up unexpectedly until one’s buried. This is true of my closet, office, and sadly, at times, my heart. Reading Donna Schlachter’s post below reminded me how necessary it is to engage in regular deep-cleaning.
Making a Clean Break
by Donna Schlachter
Boxes stacked to the ceiling blocked my way, and I gritted my teeth in frustration. After a long day of sifting through papers and files, I’d had my fill. I was ready to toss the whole mess into the trash.
A while back, my husband Patrick and I spent a weekend cleaning out a storage closet to make room for a bathroom renovation. We had thing we moved into the house more than three years before that we hadn’t looked in. Not once. Stacks of financial records going back to 1979, and college books from further back than that.
We accumulated stuff.
And that’s nothing compared to what we used to have. We’d already sifted through an eight by ten storage shed’s worth of things we couldn’t bear to part with before we moved. Papers we were sure we’d need again. Records we weren’t certain of but didn’t want to destroy. We got rid of a lot of clutter by calling up a local thrift store and holding a couple of yard sales.
While we now own less than before, my basement still wasn’t ready for the renovation. If I couldn’t move around down there, how could I expect workmen to carry in supplies and materials?
I might have reduced the junk in my storage room, but you’d never know by looking at it.
Our spiritual lives can be like that, too. We try to make changes. We stop a bad habit or curtail a destructive behavior. Maybe we even adopt spiritual disciplines or simplify our schedules. And yet our lives can look just as messy as before.
Needless to say, this can be very disheartening. It is for me. We invest time and energy, yet heart renovations take longer than we thought they would.
Our spiritual lives aren’t easy to clean up. In fact, by ourselves, we can’t succeed. Sure we can make positive changes. We can do some things different. But the truth is that without God, we can’t truly live as He desires.
On our own, none of us can say, “I have made my heart pure. I am clean and without sin” (Prov. 20:9). We must rely on God, because only He knows what changes are needed and only He has the power to bring them about. We must trust His judgment as to the timing and the process. Trying to change our behavior on our own won’t work since behavior is a symptom of a deeper issue. God knows what’s going on inside us. The real reason we’re clean, if indeed we have been made clean, is because of the free gift of grace and mercy, paid for by Jesus.
So the next time you think that making a heart-change—even a minor one—is up to you, think again. Think about what Christ did on the cross, how He rose from the dead, and the promises of God.
And then ask God what areas need to be addressed and how to go about doing that. He alone knows what needs to be done.
Spend time with God this week asking Him what you need to throw out and what behavior or attitude to adopt in its place. His answers might surprise you.
Lord, thank You for being patient with me as I seek to be made into Your image. Allow me to be a witness to Your grace and mercy, and mold me into what You need for the work of Your kingdom. Amen.
John and Mary in my novella, Train Ride to Heartbreak in the “Mail-Order Brides Collection” realized they needed to make a clean break in their lives, too. However, once committed to another in a loveless marriage, they meet and fall in love. Will they settle for duty and second-best, or will they step out in faith to encounter the promises of the Living God?
Let’s talk about this! How often do you pause to consider your heart? Can you share a time when you behaved in a way you wished you hadn’t and God used that moment to reveal a heart-issue? What happened? How did that experience grow you or draw you closer to God? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!
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Mail Order Brides follows 7 brides as they meet their grooms for the first time—after they answer an ad for a wife.
A Train Ride to Heartbreak By Donna Schlachter
1895, Train to California
John Stewart needs a wife. Mary Johannson needs a home. On her way west, Mary falls in love with another. Now both must choose between commitment and true love.
Get to know Donna:
Donna Schlachter lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.
Visit her online: HiStoryThruTheAges
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Scripture used is the NIV translation from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (R), NIV(R), Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.(R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.