Once a month my wife organizes what I like to call “The Big Buy!” What is the big buy, you ask? Well, it’s when my wife buys a big amount of stuff. I mean, she’ll easily drop several hundred dollars on this trip.
And this month she bought the most wonderful and magical product. I was absolutely enthralled by the name: “Miracle Cleaning Eraser.” The package claims, “Cleans just about anything” and “Removes scuffs and soap scum”. This is, of course, an awesome, much cheaper Wal-Mart knockoff of Mr. Clean’s “Magic Eraser” sponge. The most interesting thing about this product is that for being a “miracle,” it comes in this little, plain white box.
One day this week my wife and daughter were using this product to clean tough, nasty stains off our old claw-foot bathtub. These stains were the careful work of my 9-year-old son’s constant experiments with God’s nature. Let me tell you: this product really works! Although it worked wonderfully, my wife and daughter, being the froufrou, feminine girls that they are (this is a good thing), wanted the bathroom to not only be clean, but also to smell nice. So they sprayed some awesome, cheaper, Wal-Mart knockoff brand odor eliminator with some fancy-sounding name like “Himalayan Mountain Unicorn Breath.”
Immediately afterwards, in stomped my son, sensing a disturbance in The Force. He smelled like a wet goat, with his rubber rain boots on and no socks (summer in Georgia, mind you) and trees grew under his fingernails. He looked at his mother and sister, then he looked at me, inhaled deeply, and said one of the most deeply spiritual things a nine year old can say: “Ahhhhh, I like the smell of clean!” Of course, he was talking about the smell of our newly sprayed bathroom, which by the way, he totally destroyed shortly thereafter. But his statement made me think about my spiritual life, and yours as well.
Each of us is blessed in the way that we can come to Jesus, who is like that incredible little plainly packaged “Miracle Cleaning Eraser”. We confess our sin, repent, and have that sin totally erased from our dirty, evil, selfish self. John promises, “if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away” (Contemporary English Version, 1John 1:9). And Isaiah 1:18 says, “I, the Lord, invite you to come and talk it over. Your sins are scarlet red, but they will be whiter than snow or wool.”
But once we get clean, how do we stay clean? Well, the Bible covers that as well. It’s found in John 15:1-7a: “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I am the true vine. . . Stay joined to me, and I will stay joined to you. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit unless it stays joined to the vine, you cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me. If you don’t stay joined to me, you will be thrown away. You will be like dry branches that are gathered up and burned in a fire. Stay joined to me and let my teachings become part of you.’ ”
I know that my elevator doesn’t always go to the very top, but even I can’t miss the main point of what Jesus was trying to say. To have a healthy and intimate relationship with God—to stay clean—you’ve got to be and stay connected to Him.
Note, in this passage Jesus uses the phrase “stay joined” eight times. So I have just one question for you; have you ever been connected to Jesus? Have you ever accepted Him as your Lord and Savior? It’s simple to do.
I recently heard a preacher say, “You can’t remain where you’ve never been.” Once you’ve gotten connected, just stay there. No matter what kind of good or bad things happen to you, stay connected to Him. Not to other people or to stuff, but to Him. Many of the things that we’re connected to aren’t bad, but they’re not Jesus. They can’t give you eternal life. Only Jesus can do that.
The 12 disciples spent three years exclusively with Jesus. They woke up with Him, they ate with Him, they watched Him teach, preach, heal, love on people, and snap on them too. During the day I’m sure they left His side for a while to pick up food or visit somebody who was sick or go somewhere and preach. However, at the end of the day they always came back. They always ended their day re-connecting with Jesus.
And so it is that, during the day, no matter what you do, whom you’re with or where you go—come back at the end of the day and re-connect with Jesus. When you succeed, and especially when you fail, come back to Jesus at the end of the day. Spend some time talking to Him about what your day was like. Connect with Him and let that connection magically and powerfully erase all the grime and dirt and sin of the day.
GOD’S CLEANING SECRETS
Connecting with Jesus is an all-day thing with me. I’m so messed up and dirty that I need to have a living and constant connection with Him. But often, life gets in the way and I’m not able to sit and talk with Him as I want. Therefore, I find that the end of the day is a great time for me to re-connect with Him and basically unload on Him.
In our daily attempts to walk with God, to know and love Him better, to love others as He loves us, we don’t want anything—including us—to get in the way of that. When we knowingly get out of step with Him (Galatians 5:16, 25), we immediately confess our sin, ask Him to forgive us and consciously decide to stop breaking our relationship. It is not unlike sweeping up those things that we can see. But what about those things that we do during the day that we’re not consciously aware of—those things that aren’t so readily visible?
The answer is the spiritual disciplines of silence, stillness, confession and repentance. They are a wonderful way to daily renew your mind (Romans 12:1) and spirit and get you focused on experiencing God’s best in your life. But practically speaking, how do you do it?
Here are four principles that I’ve found to be helpful to allow God unfettered access so He can deeply clean me:
1. Get Serious: Decide to intentionally create some margin in each day. Deciding for God means deciding against other things. You can’t say that you hunger and thirst for God (Matt. 5:6) and then spend time playing on the Internet or Facebook or watching T.V.
2. Get Still: At the end of the day get alone, still and quiet, and willingly plead with Him to search and clean you of all thoughts, motivations, and words and actions, that for whatever reason, you have been unaware of (Psalm 51:16-17).
3. Get God: Once God finally gets your mind calm, give God permission to do some deep cleaning with His own “Miracle Cleaning Eraser” aka The Holy Spirit. Recite Psalm 139:23-24 “Look deep into my heart, God, and find out everything I am thinking. Don’t let me follow evil ways, but lead me in the way that time has proven true.”
4. Get Busy: God will bring to your mind things that have separated you from Him or others; this may be a thought, a word or even an action; the one thing in common is that all of these things require a response from you. Remember, God cares about relationships—with Him and with others (Matthew 5:23-24). To follow up properly, it’s helpful to keep some paper and something to write with.
If you do this every day, habitually, day in and day out, I promise you, not only will you be able to stay spiritually clean, but you—and more importantly, God will like the smell…the smell of “clean.”