My parents were Neatniks – especially when it came to housekeeping. Saturday mornings began with my dad inspecting our closets, our drawers and under our beds. Everything had better be hanging (and in order) or folded (and sorted into the right drawer). And, in his words, “There shouldn’t be anything under your bed except the floor!” If just one piece was found not properly folded or in the wrong drawer, he dumped the entire contents of the drawer into the center of the bed and you folded everything again. Sometimes he would “help,” but I really think that was more about keeping an eye out to make sure the work was done to his satisfaction. Seems to reason that I soon learned to be organized.
My maternal grandmother was likewise organized and one of my aunts was fanatically neat. Following in their footsteps (and fearing my dad would appear out of nowhere with a dust mop or broom in hand), I became a super neat housekeeper. But I didn’t last.
It’s not that I have become a slob (those who know otherwise, Shhh), but I just shifted priorities along the way and determined a level of neatness and a level of messiness that I can live with. I also learned some secrets to making your house appear cleaner than it really is when guests visit. My mother told me to buy lower wattage light bulbs and to use lamps instead of overhead light. A friend told me to boil a little cinnamon and water on the stovetop – you get that “fresh baked goods” aroma. A colleague taught me to drag the edge of a book across the carpet to simulate vacuum cleaner marks and to keep an empty basket available for collecting miscellaneous small items like magazines and phone chargers then all the items can easily be stashed inside a closet or (forgive me Daddy) under the bed. And finally, someone told me that you don’t let guests stay longer than 30 minutes because the longer they stay, the more they notice.
Isn’t this just what some people do with their lives? They clean up the outside and focus on outward appearances. Or they know secrets to making their lives look clean. A lot of stuff (sin) gets swept under rugs, stashed in closets and stored under beds. But we read in 1 Samuel 16 that the Lord looks at the heart. It does no good to “look like” a Christian or even to “act like” a Christian if the heart is not clean. Consider the cries of the psalmist, first in Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV) – “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” and then in Psalm 51:7 (KJV) – “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
Your Heavenly Father will, just as my earthly father did, show you the places in your life that need cleaning. He will also help you, washing you whiter than snow.