In Need of Deep Cleaning? Guest Post by Jessica Patch

Today’s post comes from my dear friend, Jessica Patch. I visit her blog frequently, and always leave challenged and refreshed. Jessica lives in the mid-south where the heat rises much like her contemporary suspenseful romances. Her novels are relevant, provocative stories of inspiration. Readers will identify with characters that are flawed but redeemable. Using witty humor and unusual twists, she brings characters through trials and triumphs while drawing out biblical truths. Visit her blog to find out more about her and her writing.

Time For Deep-Cleaning by Jessica Patch

I’ve been watching the hoarding shows on TV the last couple of weeks.

The minute the show comes on, my jaw drops. It’s hard to imagine someone living like that. You could laugh or poke fun, even I’ve said a few sarcastic things, but the truth is, it’s rather tragic. One episode, they cleaned up the woman’s house, and six months later, it was even worse than before. In six months!

Another woman had hundreds of jars. Glass jars for soup. Plastic jars for paint. The therapist asked her why she kept them, and she said because she might want to make soup, and if she threw away the jars then she’d never make it. When asked, “Have you made soup?” She sniffed and wiped a few tears away. “No.”

These people are filling up their homes, their sanctuaries, with things they think they need, will use, or can’t part with. I’m not a hoarder. I throw everything away. My poor kids will have no tangible childhood memories. (Sadly, I’m not feelin’ real guilty here.)

But…

It made me think of little things we keep in our “sanctuaries” that we think we need or can’t part with. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” 

1 Corinthians 6:19

In 1 Samuel Chapter 15, Saul spares King Agag’s life after being specifically instructed to “utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them…” (verse 3)

In verse 9, Saul kept everything that he thought was best and got rid of what he considered worthless. It cost him his kingdom.

I know in my life, there have been times God has asked me to clean house. I got rid of some things, but hoarded others. Like Saul. And I’ve paid a price. 

Matthew 12:43-45

 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”

Cleaning out the mess that doesn’t belong isn’t enough. If left empty, it will just pile up again, more so. Just like the woman in the hoarding show.

I like the feeling of a clean house. But, I don’t like it empty. I want it filled with good things. My family, friends, and even my annoying dog. I want to burn my apple cinnamon candle, turn satellite radio on low, and listen to the laughter of a happy home. Put in order. And productive.

I want my inside the same the way. Filled with my family-God the Father, His Son the Bridegroom, and the Holy Sprit my Friend and Teacher. I want the warm glow from His light to shine softly, while His fragrance fills every chamber of my heart…drawing others to come in and cozy up. I want my inside to be a joyful, happy place. Put in order. And productive.

What do you want your inside home to look like?

Are You a Hoarder?

The other night I caught the last ten minutes of “Extreme Couponing.” The producers ended the show by scanning through numerous stocked pantries. Boxes and boxes of crackers sat next to row after row of Gatorade. More than one family could possibly eat in a life-time, and these women were proud of their stock pile. They were proud that their pantries were stuffed to the brim with more food than they could eat, while millions starve daily.

It’s easy to become a hoarder. Maybe not to the extreme of those coupon-clipping ladies, but we all like to have our safety nets. Our nest eggs. Our guarantees. We lived in Louisiana when Katrina hit. Although we lived far enough away from the storm to stay safe, the entire state experienced heartache as Katrina victims flooded our towns, churches, and made-shift shelters. Seeing such devastation led to a lot of “what-iffing” and soon the local stores were stripped bare. Why? Because everyone stocked their pantries with water and staples in case another storm hit.

But does God want us to stock pile? Does God want us focused on ourselves? The other day my sister shared a story with me that illustrated the truth presented in the biblical account of manna. To recap, the Israelites were wandering through the desert, not knowing where they would sleep each night nor what lay ahead. And what normally happens when we face the unknown? We spiral in fear. We stock pile. We spin safety nets. God promised to provide for their needs, but a few of the Israelites grew anxious. What if God forgot a day, or changed his mind? So they gathered more manna than they needed, only it didn’t do them any good. In fact, their manna rotted, creating quite a stench!

The other day my sister shared a modern-day manna story. After the recent economic downturn, stock market crash, upheaval in other countries, sky-rocketing gas prices and political unrest in America, she and her husband decided to prepare for the “what-ifs”. They stocked their basement shelves with numerous food items, including vacuum sealed potatoes. A few months later, a nasty stench emanated from their basement. At first they thought perhaps their sewage system had backed up. Yep, it was that bad.

But nope, it wasn’t sewage. Their “manna” had rotted. After searching their basement, they found their bag of potatoes, ballooned by the gases formed during decomposition. To my sister, this was a vivid reminder not to hoard and stock pile but instead, to trust in God.

I wrote an article about this for the Christian Pulse and it will go live on June 14th. I’ll try to link to it, although I’ll be in El Salvador and potentially without internet access, so no promises.

Before I leave, think back over the account of the New Testament church. Find any hoarders? Nope. What we see are men and women so madly in love with Jesus they do whatever it takes to see His church expanded and His love made known. God doesn’t want us to self-preserve. He wants us to lay it all on the alter, daily.

Are you doing that? If not, what area of your life do you need to release?

Mark 8:34-35 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.  (NIV)