St. Andrew's UMC
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
A Friendly, Caring Church
I don’t mind cleaning, and occasionally even find it therapeutic. However, I rarely EVER look like the person in this picture! Actually, that’s not entirely true. I often start my major cleaning projects with this kind of enthusiasm and joy. I get out the cleaning supplies, set my sights on the areas that are most needy, put on my “cleaning outfit” and comfy tennis shoes, put the Glen Campbell DVD on the TV, and get started. My hopes are high and the vision of a spotless house looms like the proverbial carrot urging me forward.
Initially, the work is exhilarating. I sort items to be given away, to be thrown away, or to be placed, at last, in their intended positions.
Gradually, however, my enthusiasm begins to wane and I become overwhelmed. I am shocked by how easily and how long I have overlooked areas that needed attention. I begin to doubt that I will ever have the house spit and polished. The vision of a well-organized and clean house begins to give way to the vision of me, exhausted, collapsing amidst a pile of clothes on the bed.
As the Glen Campbell DVD comes to a close, I begin to ask if I will ever have the clean house I long to have.
My journey in Lent is likewise a journey of enthusiastic anticipation. Ash Wednesday begins and I am ready for the cleansing of my heart and soul. I choose what I will give up for Lent, set my alarm for early morning study and prayer, and ask the Lord to cleanse me from the inside out. My hopes are high. I envision myself a significantly more spiritual being: calmer, more patient, more attuned to the presence of God.
Initially, the work is exhilarating. I uncover areas of my life that are undisciplined and unproductive. I spend additional time in meditation asking Jesus to deliver me from bad habits and fill my heart with the constant reassurance of his presence. I pour over Scriptural commentaries and stack near my chair the books that are “must reads.”
Gradually, however, my enthusiasm begins to wane and I become overwhelmed. I am shocked by how easily and how long I have overlooked the areas of my own soul that needed attention. The painful work of personal growth becomes daunting, and dare I say it, at times even unwanted.
I want to arrive easily and quickly to a place of more Spiritual maturity. I want to feel God’s presence 24/7 without having to practice the Spiritual disciplines of time set apart in study, prayer, and self-examination.
I am uncomfortable by the results of such prayerful self-discovery. God reveals areas that need to be cleansed, but it is so much easier to stay in the condition I’m already in. SIGH.
Then I see in my mind’s eye the picture of Jesus’ journey toward the cross. He willingly left the comforts of his life, his circle of friends, and the joy of healing and teaching the masses. He accepted the cross as devotion to God and obedience to God’s purpose and plan. He didn’t quit when the going got tough.
His victory over Sin and Death on Easter Sunday give me the reassurance that the difficult and often painful work of my soul is not the GOAL, it is the means to realize more fully the JOY of a deeper, more committed walk with our loving God.
Thanks be to God!
See you in church~
See you in church,