Today as I was cleaning my kitchen I found a stain on the floor in our pantry. And once I tackled that stain I looked up at the solid white door frame and found lots of other little stains; some I think were jelly, one maybe butter, one some orange color that wiped off easily. But the irony is that I go into our pantry no fewer than 6 times a day and somehow I had missed these stains. And when I was eye level with them they were screaming at me to be clean (also we are having some neighbors over so I really wanted to impress and make sure they knew I kept a clean house ;)).
And while I was scrubbing off the, what I think was a jelly stain it hit me, this is a metaphor for my life. I am a Christian; I go to church, I don’t cuss, I don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, I rarely tell a lie, I try to read my Bible and pray at least once a day, and so I’m going through life feeling okay about things. But I have this aching feeling, is this all there is? And that has birthed a prayer I’ve prayed for many years periodically, “Lord, I don’t want to get up to heaven and wish I would have done more, I don’t want to get up to heaven and see that I missed you calling me to do something. Do any of you ever feel that way? Are we missing something?
Well in the last month God has been waking up my soul. It started with a simple desire to go deeper into reading His word and prayer. So I’ve been doing that, I wake up before I know the other 4 people in our house will be up and I spend some time in prayer and reading His word. Feeling good about myself I continue naively down this path, not certain what’s next. Then in a 40-day prayer challenge book I’m doing the author talks about his commitment to pray on his knees. So I start that one-day and I like that. I even think it is fun. Then, the very next day at church, while singing “I surrender all” (foreshadowing for sure) I sense God telling me to get on my knees. Well, I tell God “I don’t want to”. I am in the dead center of the row so I can’t get out without distracting others. So I do the next best thing, I sit in my chair with my head in my hands, that’s the same thing right? My soul is still restless. I look around and think no one will notice so I take the plunge and squeeze myself between my chair and the chair in front of me to kneel. And immediately I begin to weep. I was heartbroken about the sins that had nailed Jesus to the cross and my inability to get rid of those sins. Almost as though I had accepted them as part of my life and so no need to part with them. And one word came to mind “obedience”.
I thought, easy enough. I’m already getting up daily to spend time with God in prayer and in His word so I thought this would be my way to dig deeper into God’s word by studying what that word meant. In a very excited fashion I take on the task God set before me to study the word “obedience”. (Ha, as if that would be it!) And each day I prayed prayers, but two in particular: for God to transform my heart and for Him to strengthen my marriage. These were not crazy prayers, just one’s that were important to me. Each day I woke and did my routine, but oddly I found myself getting frustrated with my family and particularly with my husband throughout the day. It didn’t make sense to me. Why were things getting worse if I was praying and reading God’s word?
Then on Friday night my husband and I had a fight and we went to bed mad at each other. I woke up the next morning to spend time with God, but today I was mad AT God (lightening is about to strike!). I told God that He wasn’t keeping up his end of the bargain and wasn’t answering my prayers. I told Him, it’s not like I’m asking for a car or a million dollars, what was so hard about my prayers (I really should have been fearful of my life, but I arrogantly went on to God about how wrong He was). Once my rant was over and I was silent enough to hear the Holy Spirit (now recall the solid white door frame with the stains around it) I felt conviction about MY actions toward my husband and family. I take on the roll of mother hen and I beck orders to everyone and think my way of doing things are the only way (there is only ONE way to skin a cat in my mind and it’s my way). In my mind our house would fall apart if I were not here. I was not speaking kindly nor was I gracious to them.
While acknowledging my sin, I thought about how many times God has forgiven me, yet I am slow to forgive my family, when they don’t do things my way. And feeling like such a fool, I think how can I be slow to forgive, when God sent His Son Jesus to pay the price for my sin? And there were my stains that I had been ignoring on my white doorframe. Things that I have so looked over, thinking, “it’s the way life is”. God was answering my prayers by bringing my not so encouraging words and unforgiving heart to the surface. It’s been there the whole time, but I’ve never looked it square in the eye. And now it was here and I hated how I had been acting. I repented and took the advice of the Holy Spirit. During that Saturday I got a few odd looks from my husband when I either didn’t respond at all to something or had a kind tone. On Sunday I told my husband about the things God was teaching me and he thanked me for being “obedient” to listen to God.
God is just getting started with me. He wanted to start easy and light on me to show me some things. First, that I can trust Him. Though the pruning is tough and it makes us take a good hard look at ourselves, the benefit far outweighs staying the same. Ladies, if you’re the mother hen, our job is important, but the way we guide our family is just as important. With that, the second lesson, I cannot even begin to tell you how me changing my tone or even not sharing my oh so worthy two cents has dramatically changed our marriage. My actions had a big part in how my husband responded to me (go figure).
God has his chisel out and is beginning to chip away at other areas in my life. There is one journey in particular that is next and it is a little scary for me to allow Him to have control over. But as I’ve learned from this first experience, it is more than worth it to have the sinfulness flushed out of my life. If I live to tell (just kidding, that’s me being dramatic) I will share that next journey with you. For now, that is between God and I. But what stains are in your life that you’ve been ignoring? Do you dare to ask God, to transform your heart? If you are scared, wouldn’t it be more worth it to be transformed on this side of heaven so when you get to heaven you can hear, “well done good and faithful servant”?