...as I was cleaning. I was silently praying as I was picking up the toys and the dirty clothes in my bedroom. I prayed "God, You have blessed me with a beautiful home. Please help me to take better care of it. Help me to keep it looking beautiful." (just as I've prayed at least 100 times before!)
And then I thought, (just as I have before) this is something I should be doing out of love for God and appreciation for all He's done for me. After all, He gave me this house. Can you imagine how you would feel if you gave someone something really special, something of great worth, and they didn't take care of it? Maybe you have already experienced this as a parent. I know I have bought Taylor at least a couple of nice watches and he leaves them lying around and they end up getting lost or damaged. It hurts. When I think about the thought I put into the particular gift, to see it neglected hurts me.
Oh my goodness, now I am wondering how it must look from God's perspective when I let the dirty clothes pile up in my closet. Or when I let the kitchen sink overflow with dirty dishes. Or, what is most convicting to me right now...my kitchen table. It is a "catch-all" for everyone's keys and school papers and mail and junk. THAT kitchen table is where I sit down to meet with God every morning. Call me silly, but in my mind, that makes it a sacred spot in my home. God has revealed countless things to me at that table. His Spirit has convicted me there, His power has been displayed there, and I have poured my heart out to Him in that very spot. And yet I would be ashamed for anyone to see the mess that covers it right now.
I met with a friend of mine from bible study on Tuesday and I shared something with her that I heard a few years ago. It was when I was sitting in a different bible study and we had what they call an "icebreaker" question. We went around in a circle and each person was to take a turn answering the question "What is the greatest desire of your heart?" I was probably the 4th or 5th person to answer that question in a group of about 15 or so. The people before me all gave the "standard" answers like a new job or for a family member to be healed of their sickness.
When it got to my turn, I said very quietly and very honestly, "My heart's greatest desire is a happy home...a home where everyone who lives in it feels loved and safe and secure...a place where everyone wants to be." My face was red, I'm sure, because I was revealing to others for probably the first time that my home was not a good place to be. I truly spoke from my heart. And at that time, I spoke the truth. It was my number one desire. And it was kind of funny how after I said that, there was a little bit of silence...a few tears from the other women...and I bet you at least 5 other people after me echoed the same sentiment.
Our wise leader told us they were all important (and good) things that we desired, but she also told us that our number ONE desire should be to know God better...to want MORE of Him in our lives. She said any answer that was different than that was actually an idol. She was so right. I mean, how wrong could it be to desire a loving, Christ-centered home? Well, it's not, but when I was desiring that more than God Himself, it truly was an idol. I was guilty of seeking what God could give me more than the Giver. It took awhile for me to learn that I had to seek a personal relationship with Him above all else. (and THEN God gives you the desires of your heart only because when He has first place in your life, your desires line up more with His!)
I am reminded of this today because I just keep struggling in the area of stewardship. I want so much to be a good steward of the things God has entrusted to me. But man, I have to keep checking my primary motivation! I will not be a faithful steward of my home if my primary reason for keeping it clean is to avoid embarrassment in case a neighbor drops in! I will not be a faithful steward of my body if my primary reason for getting in better shape is to look good in my jeans! I will not be a faithful steward of my time if my primary motivation is to simply "do good things" for others. I will not be a faithful steward of my money if my primary motivation is to spend wisely so I will have a little extra at the end of the week. No, all those things are fine and good, but they are certainly not the BEST reasons to be a good steward. **edited to add: please understand, I know the reasons I mentioned are good reasons, and even better reasons would be things like: maintaining a beautiful home out of love for my sweet family, losing weight in order to be healthy, and to use my time and money to focus more on others and be less SELF centered. BUT...my point is this...even when I am not self centered and do desire to bless OTHERS, although it is a better goal, it still misses the mark. EVERYTHING I do must ultimately be done for God. And out of love for Him. My family, my friends and everyone will eventually let me down. If my primary motivation in keeping up a lovely home is to bless my family, what happens when they are having a bad day and they are not very nice to me? If I am offended by them, I'm probably not going to have much of a servant's heart for them, you know? But God has never let me down, nor will He. He alone is worthy. I can always depend on Him and His unconditional love. So keeping that in mind will help me remain faithful with all He's entrusted to me.
My primary motivation for being a good steward of my home, my body, my time, my money--EVERYTHING God has blessed me with--should be out of total gratitude for all He has done for me. I should be so completely in awe of His goodness and love for me, that the very idea of giving Him anything less than my very best in return is just totally unacceptable--and frankly, downright offensive to me!
It is finally now even more clear to me WHY my heart's greatest desire should be to have more of God in my life. When I experience more of God, when I have a deeper understanding of HIM and what He's done for me and how much He loves me, it better equips me to live a life that is pleasing to Him. When I know Him well, I know what matters most to Him and then those things matter more to me too. And then I make better choices...in my home, with my body, my time, and my money. And in the end it is for God's glory and not my own or anyone else's! (Can I get an amen?)
...and now...back to work! Gotta make my home beautiful for my Father...Who has done so very much for me.
"Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." (John 13:17)
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might." (Ecclesiastes 9:10)