Sunday, April 17, 2011

Puffy Pocket Syndrome

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10

I'm not sure how I assumed an average Jane in the twenty-first century would hear from God, but I know I didn't expect to feel inspired by the monotonous chore of laundry! While God has the power, knowledge and ability to give us awe-inspiring signs (such hand writing on the wall [Daniel 5:5] and parting the Red Sea [Exodus 14:21]), He also seems to take great pleasure in using ordinary places and people. I've yet to audibly hear the voice of God, but He constantly puts quirky little reminders of His truth in my path. I don't have a "burning bush" in the pasture, and nothing remotely miraculous has ever happened in my barn! Around here, God speaks to my heart in a little room I like to call "my office." (The rest of the world would most likely refer to it as "the laundry room.")

I have taken this room for my own (since nobody else wants it); decorating it with pale pink walls and sassy {"barbie" pink and espresso-brown} polka dots. My hope is to someday have a laptop and a desk in there, so I can write in peace and quiet. Knowing that quiet is still a ways off, God brought me another life lesson doing something far less riveting: sorting clothes.

In our house, separating clothes from whites, linens and towels is just round one of the sorting process. All clothing must go through a series of pocket emptying; lest we have bubble gum, paychecks, seashells, nerf darts, rocks, doggie treats, Swedish fish, chapstick, drill bits, dead batteries, ink pens or expensive electronic devices swimming with our clothes. Sadly, every single object on that list has gone through my washing machine. Sadder still, it was MOMMY who washed the cell phone ... and the swedish fish! While cleaning up the red globs of goo of the dryer was not my idea of a fun time, the loss of my brand new cell phone was definitely the biggest bummer. Certainly, I would have learned to empty my pockets before throwing them into the hamper after that oopsie, right? Well, unless gremlins raided my hamper, sought out my blue jacket and stuffed the pockets with dental floss, chapstick and a pair of nail clippers, I'm afraid I have yet to conquer that habit!

The good news, however, is that I caught these little gems before they went into the washing machine! While the floss wouldn't have done much damage, getting melted petroleum jelly out of daddy's work shirt is not what I consider grand recreation! Those sharp little clippers surely would hare reeked havoc on my beloved argyle tights; causing me to bust out the "sackcloth and ashes" ensemble, for sure! Since I caught those pesky pocket invaders in time, my clothes headed to the dryer refreshed and ready to samba with the dryer sheet.

In spite of being thankful that my laundry was saved from petroleum peril, I felt a little silly for keeping that stuff in my pockets for several days. I had clipped the kids' nails while getting them ready for school, but it's not like they needed to be trimmed again once they came back home! Just what was I going to do with nail clippers all day, head to the neighbor's house and ask them to remove their socks? The floss really didn't need to stick around, either. There's one pack in the car and one in my purse. Emergencies in my house rarely involve tartar, and last time I checked, there was no unsightly build-up of plaque lining my coat pocket. The chapstick explanation was particularly embarrassing; I had found it lying around the house, lectured my wayward children about not putting it back in the bathroom and stuck it in my pocket for safe keeping amidst the morning race to the bus. I carried those three items to the grocery store, church, Cutters Point (my beloved coffee house) and many other places during the week. All the while, I had been completely oblivious to the pointless clutter nestled behind the zipper of my coat pocket.

If I don't empty my pockets regularly, I'm stuck with clutter in my clothes, junk in the hamper and a possible disaster in the washing machine. When I put off giving my burdens to God, my week is a disaster! I trudge through the week, carrying the dead weight of sin, worry, anger and pain. If I took a moment each day to really examine my heart (as I know I should), I know my burden would be much lighter. Sometimes I simply forget to "come clean" about a sin I'm struggling with, other times I keep useless grudges and worries around, "just in case." When that pointless bulk affects my ability to commune with God before bed, I should sense that something is wrong. A heavy heart, however, can make it difficult to discern such a warning. In my worn out state (lugging all that weight around can sure make a gal tired!), I chalk it up to fatigue and drift off to sleep. My family gets stuck with "Supernag" 24-7, my patience and grace have a negative balance and I wonder why everyone ELSE is so annoying! The tail end of this charming week is sent plummeting into the depths of despair ... until Sunday arrives.

As I prepare to hear The Word, worship my creator and come to The LORD's Table (my "spiritual washing machine," if you will), I finally inventory the contents of my heart. I know the renewal, reassurance and peace I so desperately crave requires dumping all my junk. The clutter of one morning is humbling, but the heavy heap from a week gone awry would be something I could never reveal to a Holy God without the boundless grace of my Heavenly Father! He is never shocked by what I reveal. He never says I've stretched the saving work of Jesus' sacrifice too far. Instead, He offers the same "fresh start" I could have had all week, along with the renewal and strengthening of my faith that comes from Hearing The Word, receiving Communion and worshiping Him with my family of believers. Without a single "I told you so," I am given a new beginning and the fortification I need to face another week. :)

If you feel disconnected from God (and, most likely, your loved ones!), perhaps it's time to check the nooks and crannies of your heart for baggage! The sooner you dump your junk, the sooner God can fill those empty pockets with His love, grace and divine instruction. Put on the rubber gloves if you have to, but get that garbage GONE! :)

Gracious LORD, help me to remember that my heart is only as heavy as I insist on making it. Thank You for your endless supply of fresh starts, no matter how much garbage I have to unload, or how old my stains are! Help me to remember that your saving grace is not confined to a building or Sunday morning, because you reside in me!

With Easter Anticipation,

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