November 5, 2010
Getting Cleaned Up
Karen Ehman

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."

Psalm 51:10 (ESV)         

Devotion:
"Oh Jenny," I quipped to my friend. "You totally crack me up! All right then, we'll see you next week."

With that, the expectant mom grabbed her purse and her Bible, gave me a quick hug, and dashed out the door. She'd just announced to our Bible study group that her mother-in-law was coming to town for a few days and would be arriving later that night. Grandma was making the trip in order to assist her daughter-in-law in deep-cleaning her house. The nearly belly-busting mom was succumbing to what is fondly referred to as the ‘nesting urge:' that instinctive compulsion moms have just prior to delivery or right before that wonderful trip to bring their waiting child home from the adoption agency.

What gave me a chuckle that fall afternoon was what Jenny was actually headed home to do before her hubby's mom came to town. Was it to prepare a hot supper or make room in a child's bedroom for grandma's suitcase and such?

Nope. Jenny was speeding home so she could do one thing.

Clean her house.

Yep, clean her house. Just before her house-cleaning help arrived. She said she didn't want to be embarrassed by any killer dust bunnies or cowering cobwebs that just might be lurking somewhere grandma might spy them. So she was going to ‘surface-shine' as much as she could before her mother-in-law pulled out the big guns…uh…er…vacuums and mops…to really tackle the hard-core, deep-cleaning.

Perhaps we've all done something similar; flossed our teeth for the first time in months—right before our bi-annual hygienist's appointment at the dentist's office. Or clipped our toenails and softened our heels—yep, the night before redeeming a pedicure coupon given to us as a birthday surprise from a friend. Something in us desperately doesn't want others to know just how dirty we actually let things get in our lives.

And this isn't just a matter of house-cleaning and hygiene. We humans do this another way; and on a grander scale.

An innate urge asserts we must somehow "clean up our act" before we can come to Jesus. We feel it when we meet Him for the first time. Our bulky baggage of sin burdens us down. So we try to "clean up our act" so we can then come to Him. But as that contemplative, shepherd-turned-psalmist David declared in today's key verse, we need not attempt to spit-shine our own hearts, but rather must plead "Create in me a clean heart O God."

Yes, we do the pleading.

He does the cleaning.

Even those of us who have walked with Him for years sometimes surmise, when wading in the swamp of our sin, that we too must surface-clean the tarnish so very hard before He will ever want to use us again.

But just one action is needed. We must come to the Cleaner; the only spirit-sanitizer there is. And we must beckon Him; imploring our Savior to create in us a clean heart and renew our spirits so we may serve Him fully.

Only then will the dust-bunnies of darkness that oft-times shatter our souls be swept away completely so a renewed spirit can truly shine.

What a wonderful and spiritually effective way to be taken to the cleaners!

Dear Lord, may I come to You, tarnish and all, trusting only in Your ability to make my heart clean. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Do You Know Him?

For a list of ten heart-sanitizing scriptures and a "Clean Heart" themed giveaway, visit Karen's blog

A Perfect Mess: Why You Don't Have to Worry About Being Good Enough for God by Lisa Harper

The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized by Karen Ehman

First Love: Karen's keynote message from She Speaks 2010 (on DVD) by Karen Ehman

Application Steps: 

Make a list of the habitual struggles you have in relation to the condition of your heart. Take your list and get alone with God. Ask Him in prayer to clean you up from the inside out and show you ways to replace your old thinking about these topics with His life-changing truths.

Use an online Bible verse-locater such as www.biblegateway.com to search by keyword for verses that relate to your struggles. Write these truths on a different list. Now, tear the first list up and place the second one in a place you will see it often—on your bathroom mirror, office desk or car dashboard. Let these words of truth penetrate your soul when you are tempted to revert back to your old ways of thinking.

Reflections: 

When have I tried to "clean up my act" on my own? Was it successful or long-lasting? What could I do different this time in light of the words of today's key verse?

Power Verses:

Psalm 66:17-19, "I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer." (NIV)

Psalm 36:5, "Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies." (NIV) 

© 2010 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org