I would like to share a blog from one of our pastors’ wives in our FB group with you today that I believe will bless you.
When I was a little girl, the last week of December was a very busy time at our house. My mother, always a fastidious housekeeper, believed that this was the time of year that we should give our home a deep cleaning. She would say, “A new year means a fresh start.” Once the Christmas decorations had been wrapped and put away, Mama would flip the mattresses on all our beds. She would pull out all the coats and linens from the hall closet to be sorted and either donated, mended, or put back away. Her prized Avon collectable figurines on the curio shelves were dusted and replaced with the greatest of care.
Next, she would spend a few days in the room that was her headquarters: the kitchen. She would scrub the walls and wax the floor. She would cull through and discard any warped plastic ware and outdated spices because, “We only need enough to make things tasty.” She would take down the kitchen curtains and give them a good washing and pressing. She would make the windows shine. She would say, “I don’t want to look at the world through dirty windows.”
We children were not exempt from the late-December clean out. She would send us off on a mission to excavate our own closets and dressers as well: sorting through our belongings to donate toys and clothes that we had outgrown; evaluating the trinkets and treasures we had acquired during the year; and reorganizing what we wanted to keep. Finally, she would rent a carpet cleaner from the local grocery store and go to town on those old carpets. Every January, we began the new year by completing what I have come to remember fondly as Operation Fresh Start.
I have thought of that memory often this past season. Mama passed away two years ago and for a few days I wondered if I was simply missing my Mother at Christmas. During my quiet time recently; however, it occurred to me that my Heavenly Father was using this image as a gentle metaphor to speak to me about the current state of my heart. At first I was upset by the notion; then I began to pout. “What was He talking about? Anyone can see how much I do for the Kingdom and for my family. How could He say that my heart needs cleaning? Even when things are hurtful and hard I am at the church every time the doors are open. I teach, I speak, I mentor, I minister. I, I, I, I, I….”
That’s how I know He’s right. After some major introspection and a lengthy ugly-cry, I must admit to myself that He is absolutely right. Over time, the concerns of my heart have become more about ME and less about Him. In the process, my spiritual house has amassed some dust and debris which have not been properly managed. I have acquired clutter and contamination in places where I should have cultivated beauty. I have hoarded unclean things and they are not serving me well at all. As a matter of fact, they are actually keeping me from serving Father or anyone else very well, either.
I need a fresh start!
Father, I invite you to come initiate an Operation Fresh Start on my heart. Actually, I am begging you! I confess that I have collected a major amount of junk in there. I have hidden fears and judgments away in the closet of my mind. I’ve allowed them to warp my thoughts about myself and others. I have collected and catalogued memory after memory of things that hurt me or those I love. I have given these ‘trinkets and treasures’ great amounts of space on the shelf of recollection; and I arrange and rearrange them as though they were things of prized value! I have allowed anger into the spice cabinet of my mouth and allowed it to contaminate my words. I have permitted resentment to build up on the windows of my heart so that every new thing I see seems to be tainted with pessimism and defensiveness. It seems that I have given much of my heart back to myself, and the results have been disastrous.
Lord, I confess that on my own I cannot do all that must be done to restore order and beauty to my heart! I need your Spirit to enable me to restore you to your rightful place on its throne. Please, Lord, sift through every thought and memory that I have hidden away (even from myself) and expose them to the Light. Cause me to let go of old grudges and resentments so that I can serve others with an open mind. Flip the inconsequential issues on which I have camped out in obstinance and remind me once again that relationship is more important than being right. Cull through the ‘spice cabinet’ of my mouth and remove all of the bitter words that fly so quickly from my lips! Clean the grime from the windows of my mind so that I may see others as you see them. By your Spirit, Father, strengthen me to scrub the walls and the floors of my heart so that your throne room will be restored to the glory that it had when I first gave it to you. Please, Lord, give me the discernment and the desire to throw away all of the unbecoming attitudes with which I have been clothing myself. Replace my fears with faith and my judgmentalism with joy. Clothe me once again in your Love so that I may love YOU better and love others anew.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51: 10-12)
I don’t want to begin another year with my heart in this condition, Lord. Please grant me a greater measure of your Spirit so that by your grace alone I may begin this new year with a fresh start and a clean heart.
Let’s take what Anita shared with us and make 2020 a “Fresh Start.”