I really like a neat home. When I walk into my house, I am bothered by papers on the table, tools on the counter, or shoes and clothes scattered around. So, I am constantly putting things away – not that I necessarily put them in the right place. I sort of live by the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ motto.
One night I was straightening the kitchen, and I came across a small bug in a plastic sandwich bag. Puzzled, I asked what it was. My then teen-aged daughter replied that she was saving it to show to our exterminator; she wanted to know what kind of bug it was. “Well”, I replied, “it can’t stay here”. Then I folded the bag and carefully placed it in the drawer that we fondly refer to as the junk drawer. I turned to see my daughter shaking her head. “Wow”, she murmured. “We file our bugs”.
Unfortunately, my habit of filing things away and getting them out of sight sometimes applies to my heart as well. Too many times I hide things in my heart that should be confessed and thrown away. If you take a quick glance everything looks great, but don’t open the drawers and the closet. There you may find a bug of bitterness left over from a hurt or a scrap of anger at a perceived injustice. Don’t check the desk because sheets of envy or discontent may be stacked neatly where they can be accessed easily at the slightest provocation.
My heart, like my home, can get so cluttered with leftovers and scraps that need to be discarded that there is no storage room for the necessities, like quietness and peace. I may no longer be able to find the important things like memorized scripture and past blessings.
Periodically I go through and clean out all of the hidden things in my house. I fill bags and bags with the clutter that I have so carefully tucked away. My heart, though, is a different matter. I need help with that decluttering job. I think King David set the example for this when he prayed “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139:23, 24). He also prayed “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
I find that I am getting better at dealing with the garbage in my house. I don’t stuff as much stuff as I used to. With God’s help, I am attempting to do the same with my heart – to walk in the light and deal with hurts and disappointments as they arise; to confess my failures and disobedience immediately before they have time to become entrenched in the drawers of my heart; to say with David “Teach me, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Thy law; yes, I shall observe it with my whole heart.” (Psalm 119:34)
Now, if you will excuse me, I need to unfile a bug.