Looking around my bathroom as I blow dry my hair, I see slivers of dust that I missed when I cleaned the bathroom yesterday. You know, the beveled edge of the door engravings, the crack where the door closes, one corner of the chair rail by the linen closet. These are places that are not noticeable – and really, who sees them except for me and my husband – no one else comes into our bathroom – but to a perfectionist with an eye for detail, these minor remnants remind me that this room isn’t as clean as I think it is. Now my paranoid mind begins to ponder where else dirt and grime may be that I can’t see. In the end, I remind myself that I never claimed to be a great house cleaner, and probably could not win an award for housecleaning in most contests, even if I tried.
Does this relate to my spiritual life? I think so. To be frank, I have been plagued lately with some indications that I haven’t been as sensitive to some groups as the Lord would have me to be. I hope I don’t step on any toes, because this doesn’t mean I don’t love these individuals, or that I don’t want to be more sensitive to them – it just indicates that there are slivers of dust in my heart that I have been previously unaware of.
It was first brought to my attention a few days ago when a friend invited me to a MOPS group. I thought to myself – now why in the world would I want to attend a Mothers of Preschooler’s group – when I no longer have a preschooler? Why would I want to subject myself to all that whining (the babies), and sleep- deprived talk (the mommies) about bottles, breastfeeding, diapers, and such? I’m past that phase – and right now, I have no interest in going back. And honestly, the more I thought about it – the more irritated I started to feel at the thought of toddlers interrupting my all-important conversations. At first, I just felt a little tap from God – like maybe that’s not the best reaction to have to such an invitation. But, as you and I know, when God wants to make us aware of something – He does. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my insensitivity to this group of moms is not right; in fact, it’s downright sinful. Yes, I have made it through that phase, but I’m just in another one that may annoy someone else when I complain and talk nonstop about discipline and other elementary problems. Perhaps I should stop to look back and determine what could have made that time more pleasurable and less dreaded for me. Then, maybe I’d know how I can minster to these individuals.
This is not the only sliver of dust on my “supposedly-cleaned-up heart.” What about the homeless? Oh – you don’t want to go there? Well, neither do I – but didn’t God say “the righteous care about justice for the poor” (Pro. 29:7)? The pan-handlers are everywhere in our town. I rarely stop at a corner where there isn’t someone holding a sign asking for money or food, or a job. My reaction – look away, don’t make eye contact, try to read the sign if possible without them knowing just out of curiosity, glance around the car to see if I have anything to give them, then pull away as soon as the cars ahead move on. The whole time, I’m rationalizing – thinking of excuses and the stories we’ve all heard. There are agencies who help them; some haven’t accepted a job when they were offered because they make more on the corner; many will buy booze (we can see that evidence for ourselves under the overpass); some have tossed away the food given when the car pulled away, and one robbed and stole from the very church that was inviting him in. But for all of these excuses –there have been some good stories too. The one that ran over to share his food with his friends; the lady who practically dove into the leftover salad my friend handed to her; the one who stole the car so he could get to his grandson because he was desperate to see him before it was too late. So, how do I figure out what to do with this information? How do I discern which ones to help and which ones to avoid at all cost? I don’t know. I do know that God wouldn’t allow me to see them on every corner and constantly convict my heart about them if there wasn’t something I could be doing to minster to them. In fact, when was the last time I gave to that ministry that exists to help them? When was the last time I tried to give them food? Not recently enough.
My point is what are your slivers of dust -those hidden dirty areas that no one really sees except for you and God? What are the issues that God keeps nudging you on that you know are keeping the room of your heart from being spotless? Let’s be honest with ourselves. Scripture says “there is no one righteous, not even one . . .” Romans 3:9. If you love the Lord and want to walk in His ways, then ask Him to examine your heart and show you the unclean areas. (Ps. 139:23-24). Then let’s pray that God would help us to look sharp in His ways.
After all – we are only fooling ourselves if we think we haven’t missed anything.
the dusty writer