My dad tells a story about the differences in his children. He says when my younger brother, Marcus, was a kid he would take things apart and then put them back together. Like the time he took apart my parents’ rotary phone and put it back together.
Then he handed my mom four pieces of the phone he “couldn’t find spots for inside.”
Dad said he knew Marcus would be a problem solver.
Dad says my youngest brother, Cameron, would always be the first to care for animals and this speaks to Cameron’s tender heart and compassion for people.
However, he says that I, upon receiving something, would immediately put my name on it. Dad says he knew that I would always be organized.
As a bibliophile from a young age, I had my own form of the Dewey Decimal System and had each book in “my library” marked and coded with a sticker and number on the spine and a checkout and return card and pocket on the inside cover. I never checked out books to anyone but myself, but I wanted an efficient system. I was eight or nine years old at the time.
I could run circles around Monica Gellar and her organizational standards.
But, much like the Friends’ character with whom my OCD-self so easily identifies, I have my own confession:
I am not as organized as I appear on the surface.
Don’t get me wrong. I am organized, but I am not as organized as people think.
For example, at one point the closet in the guest bedroom of my home so badly needed to be reorganized the only way I was able to keep the double doors closed was with ribbon and a rubber band. Anytime I had to get something from this particular closest great caution was exercised opening the door because I didn’t have a clue as to what would fall out and possibly land on my foot or my head.
I like things neat and clean. I dust. I sweep. I mop. I vacuum. Dishes are done after they are used and put away in their respective spots in the cupboards.
I am no slob.
But, I am a pack rat and hide things in closets and under beds…where good guests who were taught manners should not look.
As summer has ushered itself into this year, and it is too hot to go outside, I have spent quite a bit of time truly becoming an organized person – not just on the surface, but also with the closets and under the beds.
The guest bedroom closet that once had every scrapbooking item AC Moore, Michael’s, Jo Ann’s and Hobby Lobby have to offer has since been reorganized and the double doors now close without the aid of a rubber band and burnt orange ribbon.
Bad guests who open the doors will now be greeted with clothes neatly hanging and scrapbook items organized into decorative boxes with quaint sayings all over them.
Confession is good for the soul.
And, hopefully, it leads to action.
And an organized closet.
But, I was reminded in the midst of this re-organization process how easily we try to keep outward appearances while hiding reality.
If you were to walk into my home you would look around and think, “Wow. It’s so neat and clean. And it smells like eucalyptus.”
And on the surface, it was neat and clean and smelt like eucalyptus.
Much like life though, we can easily hide things and not allow others to see below the surface. We might cover things up – with make-up, a fake smile, trendy clothes, a great personality, or false enthusiasm – when in reality a look at our hearts might reveal judgmental thoughts, apathy, or a host of other things.
In Psalm 139:23-24, David prayed to the Lord God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”
Though we often try to hide things from others, we can’t hide anything from God. I remember a sweet Precious Moments image from many years ago that was of a little boy and his dog hiding under some bedding, each with an eye poking out. The caption read, “You can’t hide from God.”
And, you can’t.
However, unlike the need to provide manual labor in order to have clean spots under beds, closets and cabinets, there is not manual labor we can provide to clean up ourselves before a Holy God. Our best efforts to “hide” things from God to look presentable are impossible – HE SEES IT ALL.
And, yet, in the middle of seeing it all – all our sin past, present and future – He still sent His Son Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). Jesus can clean us if we come to Him and confess we have fallen short of God’s standard and He is the only way to be clean before Almighty God.
God sees my heart – He sees yours, too. And, yet, He loves, offers forgiveness, and grace and mercy if we are willing to accept His Son.
And this grace, mercy and forgiveness is better than any cleansing man can provide.