Tonight was a cleaning party. Instead of having our usual Wednesday night study, we took on a little love in action. One lady in the Bible Study recently shared the gospel (the Biblical message of forgiveness of sin, a relationship with Jesus and eternal life) with an old friend whose life was in shambles. She phoned me after to tell me the good news and with a great idea. She said, "We need to give this woman a fresh start. I think we should go over there and clean her house." She explained how this single mother of three worked full time and felt overwhelmed by the growing task of keeping her house in order and how it was in dire need of a big clean up.
Eight of us ladies headed over there tonight fully prepared to get elbow deep in whatever we had to. We entered the house armed with cleaning supplies and stock for the cupboards. I felt tremendous joy as this woman wept and said, "I can't even believe that you're here doing this." I was thinking to myself, "We're just doing to your house what Christ has already done to your heart and ours."
I felt slightly overhwhelmed at the task that lay before us when I saw it. We decided to divide and conquer. Two tackled the bathroom, two tackled the kitchen, two tackled the bedrooms and my partner and I took on the laundry room which was conveniently also the place where the cats had taken over. Our new friend came in and frantically started to tidy with us saying, "No, I have to help you girls. I'm the one who made this mess." I assured her that we had it under control and ushered her back into the living room to spend some quality time with her precious children.
I thought to myself, isn't this what we try to do? We think we somehow need to be responsible and "help God" with the clean up because we feel so responsible and guilty about the mess we have made instead of just handing over the reigns. I think he says something similar, "Just give me permission to get rid of what needs to go and I'll take care of the rest."
It was an amazing sense of joy that we felt to know we were doing something physical that represented something that had taken place on the inside. I overheard her in the hallway telling a story I couldn't help but smile at. She said, "One of my friends said to me a couple days ago, 'I can't believe how much you've changed in only a week!' I told her that I gave my heart to God and she said, 'That's all I have to do?'" Isn't that what giving your heart to Jesus all about? Total transformation that makes people go, "What happened to you?" and "How did I get what you have?"
As we finished one room after another, she peered in and stood in amazement at the observable difference in the appearance. I wish we had taken before and after pictures. There are things that we all struggle with. The battle for holiness in this world rages on. I hope that I can look at areas of my own life with the same amazement and say, "I'm different because I let Jesus do a big cleaning job in my heart."
We left after a couple of hours feeling a bit like the crew of Extreme Makeover, Cleaning Edition. The precious kids were so thrilled to have clean rooms and tidy toy boxes. I know that they'll remember this night because of what happened but more importantly, I hope they'll remember who happened to their mom and the difference that He has made.