A new year is upon us and I find the need to clean or clean-out. It’s not the same as “spring cleaning” or fall “harvest and prepare for winter” cleaning but it is a type of renewal. The beginning of a new year gives a chance to look back at the accomplishments and struggles of last year and look forward to the new and hopefully better one. I change the calendar, the checkbook register and get a new “planner”. My husband and I sit down and discuss home improvements needed, taxes and vacations… but not at the same time!
January is known for its “white sales” – new appliances, linens and storage containers. There are all kinds of magazine articles, books and Pinterest ideas on de-cluttering and getting organized. And of course there are many new years’ resolutions made because we want to do better. Everyone has some area of their life that they want to work on. As to house cleaning, we deal with daily and weekly messes on a regular basis but occasionally we have to do some deeper cleaning.
Being inside more due to the weather, I tend to re-organize the pantry – the kitchen junk drawer is a mess – and how can those spices be outdated? But rarely do I make it to the hidden areas of the house like under the bed, the spare closet, the attic or the boxes of old papers. If it isn’t seen – it doesn’t bother me. But it won’t go away on its own. That takes time and real determination.
We also need to deal with the messy areas of our lives. It’s easy to ask God to forgive us for “little sins” of omission or commission. But what if we are honest and go a little deeper? There are hidden sins of the heart like when we try to hide a wrong-doing. If we let a grudge turn into bitterness or shame turn into fear, it affects our hearts and minds. We can try to justify our feelings and actions – but that doesn’t bring peace of mind. It started in the Garden of Eden and continues to this day. Adam and Eve disobeyed, lied about it and then played the blame game.
The Bible has a lot to say about unclean hearts. God sees and knows it all and yet we often try to sweep our “stuff” under the rug.
O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you Psalms 69:5 (ESV)
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:18 (ESV)
Only God can wash our hearts from all the hurts and hang-ups. He says come – let me remove the “dirt” and cleanse you from the inside out. God desires to restore a right relationship with Him and promises us a new beginning. Even if something seems impossible to forgive (like trying to get red ink out of a white shirt) nothing is impossible with God.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalms 103:11-12 (ESV)
Start the New Year off by spending time in prayer and reflection. Let’s open up the closet of our heart and ask God to do a deep cleaning. Sometimes that deep cleaning takes a long time because first we need to recognize our fears, failures and faults in order to let Him work in our hearts. The process isn’t easy but it is freeing and satisfying. Let this prayer of David be yours :
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalms 51:6-10 (ESV)