by Joanie Butman
My husband and I have spent the past few weeks cleaning out the Florida house his parents had been living in for the past 30 years. Gone is the infamous ‘Depend-able’ cocktail table, remnants of past appliances, every supermarket bag that ever came into the house, along with an enormous collection of empty boxes, jars and Folgers coffee containers. It’s amazing how much useless junk we can accumulate over the course of our lives. It was cathartic heaving the mountain of debris cluttering the garage into the dumpster, which was overflowing, yet somehow the garage remains full!
After emptying the house of unnecessary junk, we began the process of ‘fixing’ the place up. As I said to my husband, it’s like putting lipstick on a pig. The original 1960s kitchen and baths were screaming for attention. However, the truth is that regardless of what type of Band-Aids we apply, whoever eventually buys it will most likely tear it down.
Easter arrived in the middle of this process, and the sermon at the sunrise service was all about how Jesus makes all things NEW. I thought to myself that we could certainly use some divine intervention in regard to this house, because it’s going to take a miracle to revive it. Paul comments in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” In addition, Revelation 21:5 states, “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” This truth isn’t a future promise but one we can claim right now. Jesus didn’t say He will make things new. He says He IS making things new. That’s the beauty and miracle of Easter. His resurrection marked the beginning of a new covenant - a restoration effort that will only be complete when Jesus comes again.
An integral element of Christ’s renewal process is to do a spiritual cleansing. The amount of physical junk we accumulate over time pales in comparison to the weight of our mental and spiritual rubbish. Blessedly, we can dispose of it in a divine dumpster. Just as clearing the clutter from the Florida house enabled us to do some much-needed renovations, releasing spiritual trash such as anger, pride, bitterness, unforgiveness, or any type of ‘junk,’ enables us to access the renewal Jesus describes. Furthermore, cleansing needs to become a daily discipline to avoid mental hoarding. Just as an interesting aside, the day after I wrote this essay my morning devotion reminded:
Basic training includes learning to live above your circumstances, even while interacting on that cluttered plane of life. You yearn for a simplified lifestyle, so that your communication with Me can be uninterrupted. But I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world. Accept each day just as it comes, and find Me in the midst of it all. (Jesus Calling)
Amen to that!
My in-laws considered my purging tendencies ‘wasteful.’ After all, you never know when you might need a broken printer or the door to a microwave three generations past. Luckily, nothing we choose to toss into the Lord’s lap is ever wasted. He can take our nastiest garbage, saturate it with His love and grace, and use it to transform us. My efforts may indeed be wasted in trying to improve the Florida house without tearing it down. Giving it a face lift is just masking the antiquated infrastructure. As the electrician told me, it would cost more than this house is worth just to bring the wiring up to code.
How blessed are we as Christians that the cost of our restoration has been paid in full. Yes, it was costly, but Christ was willing to assume our debt. Our worth isn’t determined by what’s on the surface but what’s in our heart - Jesus. My value isn’t determined by who I am but whose I am. As children of God, we are all worthy of redemption - regardless of the cost.