Last semester we did a service project with the Confirmation class. One Saturday morning we cleaned up a nearby park. We split into pairs and fanned out with one person carrying the bag and the other assisting with trash pickup. It was a beautiful day and proved to be a rather enjoyable service.
Except of course one thing – some trash is gross.
As we walked my partner and I found ourselves in a bit of a nook. There was a small narrow spot behind a building that backed up to a wooded area. This narrow space was at the end of a large field, and as a result wind had blown a great deal of junk into this out of the way spot.
My first response was to say, “Oh we don’t need to bother with this.” It was near the end of our work time and no one would ever go behind that building. But my partner was an eager and hard worker and began to pick up trash along the tree line.
My second response was to say, “Okay we’ll just clean up a bit here by the entrance where people will see.” Why bother with the rest? I’m tired. The bag is getting full. But my partner was still eager and I watched for a minute as she squatted and reached for trash I hadn’t even noticed.
My last response was to say, “Well, we should rejoin the group now, we don’t want to get too far from everyone.” It was a bit creepy back in that little nook. And I was ready to leave. After a bit more cleanup my partner joined me. We left the nook only partially cleaned. And that bothered me somehow.
The other day in prayer I found myself anxious. God had been doing a lot in my heart lately and I knew he wanted to do more. But I was tired and a bit timid.
God brought to mind the above service project. At first I thought it was a mere distraction or a random memory popping in. But then it hit me.
God wants to clean out even the smallest, narrowest crevice of my heart. He wants access to all the nooks, all the out of the way places. He wants to clean out all the trash, sin, hurt, fear – anything that keeps me from receiving and giving his love fully.
At first my responses were the same: “Oh we don’t need to bother with this.” “Okay we’ll just clean up a bit here where people will see.” But God is a most eager and hard worker. Finally I said, “Okay Lord, clean it out.”
This season of Lent we have a grand opportunity. God comes to us eager and willing to work. He longs to clean out our hearts – even those places we often pretend don’t exist or the ones we have long since tried to forget are there. He bends and reaches and sees trash we aren’t even aware of. He doesn’t tire of his work. He longs to make us whole.
You may be tired. You may be timid. You may be eager to leave this task for another time. It may be gross. It may seem creepy. It may be tempting to leave this project before it is completed.
But let him in. Give him full reign to clean up your heart.
This Lent may we cry out to God as the psalmist did, “Create in me a clean heart, O God!”
And then let him get to work on the cleanup.