The young mother walked into the kitchen and her heart sank. Her family would be needing lunch in just under an hour, but not even sandwiches could be thrown together in the mess before her. A sick preschooler and a sleepless infant had left her stretched and exhausted. Cleaning the growing pile of dishes had been the last thing on her sleep-deprived mind for the past few days. But now the consequences stared her in the face.
It’s not so bad, she comforted herself. Glancing around she saw that it was less that the piles were so huge and more that the small kitchen just could not hold much more. There was really little room for anything but order, yet order had been neglected in the chaos of daily life. Seeing no other alternative, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work.
Some of the dishes before her were baked-on and time hardened messes, but those really were quite few and far between. She filled them with water and let them to soak while she tackled the lesser messes. Some looked bad, but cleaned up so easily. Some hardly looked dirty at all, but experience reminded her that invisible germs were as dangerous as visible food remnant. As she dug into the work, she was surprised by how quickly the once intimidating pile shrunk to nothingness.
Then came those few bigger messes. The ones that needed a little more effort and force to scrub out. But even those, when treated with a few minutes of soaking and a little bit of scrub, proved much less difficult than expected. In no time at all the chaos of her kitchen was transformed to a stack of dishes on the drying rack and clean counters on which to prepare a meal for her waiting family.
I confess, this has been my story more than once. But, not just in the kitchen. It’s been the story in my heart as well.
There are days when the chaos of life distracts me from dealing with the little spiritual messes that build up. Lost temper here. Impatience there. Neglect in prayer. Just going through the motions in devotional time. And then comes the decline in discipline in the physical aspects of life like eating, exercising, and keeping the house tidy. As those are neglected more and more, my spirit sags into frustration and blahness.
One day I look up and realize that I can’t function like that any more! I can’t walk through the basic necessities of being the wife, mother, and child of God I have to be when I’m surrounded by such a mess.
The beautiful thing is that the Holy Spirit keeps my spiritual “kitchen” small. He keeps my tolerance for messes limited. His nudges and convictions remind me that I am not meant to live with even the slightest mess in my heart. Before the chaos grows too big to truly derail me, He urges me to step in and take control again.
The question is, will I listen? You see, His nudges help all of us keep our “kitchens” small. But, if we ignore those nudges, the space grows. And we continue to fill the space with messes. And the messes get worse and worse and worse until it takes more than just a quick clean-up to get things back in order. It takes digging out of the chaos. It takes painful and difficult scrubbing and scraping. It takes much time. And meanwhile, our families suffer as we continue to be unable to truly interact with them as we were meant to. That’s why the Spirit nudges us so often, to keep those kitchens – and their messes – small.
I think I’m ready to go clean my kitchen. Will you join me?