By Sherye Green
In taking a second to look up from the page of my life, I’ve discovered that low and behold it’s March. How that happened I have absolutely no idea! That’s one of the mysteries of the middle ages that I’ve yet to fathom—how quickly time flies.
In years past, I’ve endeavored to formulate a list of New Year’s resolutions only to spend the remainder of the year finding ways to get around them. My spirit somehow doesn’t seem to take kindly to reform. Perhaps because I’m now fully entrenched in these middle years, it’s simply harder and harder to move not only my body, but my spirit as well.
This year, I’ve been inspired to develop themes—general categories of sorts that might be applied to every area of my life. My two themes for 2014 are discipline and rest. Discipline is the theme on which I’ve been concentrating lately. Working hard to make better use of my time, I’m attempting to follow the old “work smarter, not harder” approach.
One of the lessons God has been teaching me lately is that the parts of my life that are the least visible to others are the ones that must be the most visible to Him. Those inner chambers of my heart—my thoughts, my desires, my motives, and the longings of my heart—must be submitted to Him daily for cleaning and maintenance. Just as vacuuming and dusting in my home must be performed over and over again on a regular basis, so must the care of my inner woman.
A few years ago I came across a wonderful devotion, My Heart–Christ’s Home, written by Presbyterian minister Robert Boyd Munger. Originally penned in 1947 as an outline for a Sunday evening sermon, Munger’s words were immortalized by publisher InterVarsity Press. My Heart–Christ’s Home became the company’s most successful publication. The story is a perfect allegory of the inner “home” within each of us—and how desperately we need Christ’s life-changing power to maintain its order.
Munger invites the reader to pull up a chair beside a cozy fire as he recounts the moment that he invited Christ into his heart. As the tale unfolds, Munger and Christ walk through his house. Each room is given close scrutiny. As the visit progresses, Christ brings to light all that does not reflect His spirit in Munger’s home, and how neglect of the dwelling has endangered the relationship between the Master and His new disciple.
Munger, realizing he is powerless to make any needed changes on his own, asks Christ, “Would You take the responsibility to keep my life what it ought to be?” Christ responds with great enthusiasm that He’d be glad to help Munger, telling him, “You cannot be a victorious Christian in your own strength. Let me do it through you and for you.”
Like dust bunnies which all too quickly accumulate under furniture in my home, the attitudinal malaise which oftentimes accompanies these middle years can coat my mind and heart with a dusty film of its own. Like finding scraps of papers squirreled away that earlier should have been properly filed away, these middle years are often filled with backward glances, times of peering back through the years of my life, and wondering if I took care of things properly in this situation or that, or beating myself up over some past mistake I made—one that probably no one on this entire earth but me remembers or even cares about. Too often, I have missed the joy in the journey because the dirt accumulating in the darkest corners of my heart has fashioned a wall between my God and me.
God’s ways are so simple, and yet so profound. All too often, they require only my faith and trust in Jesus, and He promises to do the rest. Who wouldn’t want a deal like that? In this middle age of my life, I too realize I am helpless to make the changes within the home of my heart. Psalm 51:10 echoes this prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.” God’s promise to answer that prayer is found in Ezekiel 11:19, “I’ll give you a new heart. I’ll put a new spirit in you.”
If your heart, like mine, is in need of a little spring-cleaning, join me in developing the spiritual discipline of inviting Jesus in for a heart-maintenance, repair visit on a regular basis. Jesus longs for you and me to pull up a chair beside Him. Armed with buckets of forgiveness and brushes that are guaranteed to wipe away the dingiest of stains, Jesus is able to clean out the corners of our hearts.