It’s a good thing that company’s coming, or this house would never get cleaned. I can think of a zillion other things I’d rather do—like be stuck in traffic, or yank out the spiny thistles threatening my garden—without gloves. (Though it’s interesting that I’m using the housework to avoid balancing the checkbook.)
Three days to clean one house sounds a bit extreme. I can do enough to make things look nice in a few hours—dust, vacuum, swish a brush around a toilet—and that’s what I usually do. And that’s the problem. All the surface stuff looks clean and shiny. The places where guests usually go is neat and clutter-free. Just don’t open the closet.
Actually, unless you’re like my parents (who had extra closet space!), I bet most houses have The Room Where Everything Else Goes. If you have a small house, or perhaps an apartment, it might be a closet. Company coming? Quick, toss the debris into The Room and shut the door. No one is going to look in there, right?
The reason it’s taking me three days to clean our house is I’m including the places where no one usually looks. The top of the refrigerator. The dead moths stuck in the top of the curtains. The inch-thick layer of fur decorating the once-green silk plants on the high ledge in our bedroom (ewwww). The Room.
I could spend a lot more than three days doing this.
There has to be a lesson in all this, right? Well, it was while reading my Bible this morning that it dawned on me.
I’ve been reading Matthew, and I’m getting near the end. Jesus gets a bit fed up with the Pharisees, and doesn’t mince words:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (Matthew 23:25-28)
I was immediately reminded of the way I normally view housework—clean the outside, and don’t worry about the inside. Ouch.
How much was I concentrating on the easily visible sins? From the outside I look pretty good. Yet, God cares more about the parts no one else sees. In fact, He’s pretty desperate to get into that room with the closed door.
My neat-freak dad once stunned a real estate agent who was helping them sell their house. He and my mom were giving the agent a tour so she could write up the listing, when they came to the bathroom. He opened the doors of the vanity to show her that he’d polished the pipes under the sink!
While most homeowners wouldn’t go to that extreme, maybe that’s exactly the attitude God seeks in us. He doesn’t just want the sink to shine. He wants to polish the hidden plumbing!
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.