Three rectangular baskets sit in the bottom of the linen closet in our upstairs hallway. Willingly they open their arms to receive all the things I’ve decided I don’t need anymore: shoes, belts, a decades old set of heated hair rollers.
These containers were so stuffed that the doors almost wouldn’t shut. So after putting away Christmas things in January, I kept on cleaning. For tax purposes, I filled two and a half pages with descriptions of items I don’t wear anymore, things I’d long clung to because I’d loved them once upon a time. Then I filled the back of my Ford Explorer with three big stuffed shopping bags, a box almost overflowing with miscellaneous items, and a pile of old pillows and an old comforter. Destination: Goodwill.
Arriving home, it felt good to have cleaned that closet, to know the once hidden piles of clutter are gone, to rest in work accomplished, to rest in tetelestai.
“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean…Come let us reason together, says the Lord” (Isaiah 1:16,18). For unto us was born a Savior whose last words were tetelestai, “It is finished” (John 19:30). It is good for the heart of my home to be cleaned and reordered.
I have a friend who just finished her graduate degree in counseling and wrote her final paper on hoarding, which she describes as an addiction, a type of self-soothing, a form of control. Piles of things we can’t part with reveal a heart that refuses to trust God’s rule; a love of good things terribly out of proportion, a sad picture of hearts stuffed with things we love that crowd out any affection for Christ.
Today is Valentine’s Day, the holiday to celebrate love. Because God is love this day should be about Him. Yes, exchange valentines with your children and your spouse, give thanks for these dear ones God has given you. But ask yourself, do you love your family, your children, the ideal of marriage, or your possessions, anything more than God Himself?
“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement,” said St. Augustine. But we must welcome Him to our hearts as He is. Augustine also said, “If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.”
Today isn’t just Valentine’s Day; it is also the start of Lent. It’s Ash Wednesday, the season of preparing our hearts to greatly worship and celebrate Jesus’ tetelestai work on the cross for us! It’s time to open the doors of our hearts again. Are there closets in your heart stuffed with good things you are trusting in and clinging to for security?
Your work is only to open the door to your heart to let the light of God’s Word shine in those hidden spaces. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). It is His work to show you what you are trusting over Him. “There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth” (Proverbs 30:12).
This is the great relief of the gospel that we don’t have to work for forgiveness, salvation, or restoration. It is a free gift to all who believe by faith.
My you invite His cleansing light to shine in your heart and may you fall in love with Jesus this Easter Advent season as never before!