May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.”1 Thessalonians 5:23a (NIV)
They’ve been trapped for four years, stuffed in small, cardboard boxes in our garage. They are the household items I packed when we sold our home. Yet, I still have them tucked away. For the most part, I pretend they’re not there. However, every time I pull into the bay, the boxes remind me of the little things packed inside–stuff I can’t name because I have forgotten, it’s been so long. My garage needs to be purged, and no one will do it but me.
Of course, there are other things inside the house as well. Suitcases tucked into closets, hangers under the bed and piles of books on the desk behind a door. These things I see. I can name them. But they are still unseen by others. They hide in little nooks where messes go when company is coming over and I have fifteen minutes to “tidy up.” My husband calls it “the fake house.” Can you relate?
If I’m honest, I have a tendency to show my fake self to people too. Even though I have experienced freedom through transparency, the pull toward self-preservation is strong. Like a bee attracted to the brightest flower, I navigate toward the Pollyanna persona, not wanting to experience rejection. However, when I am honest, transparent and real about my own sin, then I am free to love and be loved. Ironically, the very things I would rather hide are what ministers to people the most!
The “messy” house, it turns out, is relatable. The truth actually does set me free to be empathetic, loving and honest because I’m not trying to earn anyone’s love. It’s true, I might be rejected, but It doesn’t matter when I believe God’s promises. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am deeply loved by God. I have been created for a purpose. God has always been there for me, even when I rejected Him. There is no hiding our true selves from Him. More than that, God doesn’t want us to hide our emotional mess from Him–or anyone else. So don’t. Instead, invite the God of peace into your messy house (even the garage). After all, your heart is His home. Only He can go through all the “boxes of junk” and purify your heart.
How? That’s a good question. When we respond to God’s invitation to spend time with Him and drink in His delight, it purifies us. He not only cleanses His home, but He also orders our thoughts and feeling so they reflect the truth of who He is and who we are in Christ. His word is powerful, convicting and cleansing. He is a God of order, not chaos. He is calling you and me into a life of constant transformation that results in more and more intimacy with Him. When He reveals the chaos in our lives He does it so we will release it, throw it out, so to speak, so we can “get around” with ease. Remember, His burden is light. So, when you feel God is opening up some boxes you’d rather keep closed and stored away, don’t resist Him. Instead, open up your hands and heart and let Him have free rein.
With my permission, He gently lifts a heavy box from the shelf and opens the folded cardboard. I squint to see what’s inside. There are sharp edges and something black poking out of the box. “Hmmm. There’s a lot of rejection in here.” He pulled out a photo of my father standing next to me with his hand on my head. My dad’s face was stern, and I looked afraid. “I was there, you know,” He said. “Holding on to this is hurting you. Would you let this go now? Can you forgive your dad like I forgave you?” “Yes. Throw it out. I don’t want that anymore. “Good. You know I love you, right? You know that I am love. I am just and I am faithful.” “Yes, Lord, I know. I’m sorry I held onto that so long. It hurt so bad. He was my father, you know?” “Yes, I know. I know rejection. Can I take this from you? I would like to.” “Yes. But I still feel unlovable. Like no one cares.” “Unlovable? I say you are loveable! I died for you.” “Yes, of course. I’m so sorry! I know you love me. I know you are enough. I know you died for me so I might have freedom and know real love. But I feel rejected and unloved. I know it’s not true, but I can’t make the feeling go away.” “Sit with Me awhile. Drink in my delight. Renew your heart and mind until you really believe the truth. Bathe yourself in the reality of My acceptance and forever love for you. Then, we’ll come back tomorrow and clean out some more junk. Okay?” “Okay,” I whispered as I snuggled up to Him. His strong arm wrapped around my shoulder and I felt…Loved.
Are there “boxes of junk” piled in your heart? Ask God to open just one and sift through it with you. Take some time to explore your thoughts and feelings. Then, as you sit with Him, confess the sin He reveals to you. Not just what you feel or what you thought, but the real heart issue like unforgiveness, bitterness, idolatry, or shame. Remember, it is for freedom sake that He has set you free!