June 19th- On this day we filled our house with family and celebrated Father's Day. We feasted on corn on the cob, fruit salad, rice and baked chicken. But not just any chicken- three separate flavors. The three 13x9 glass Pyrex pans took up whole oven. We all dug into the food and later the dishes. We had the kitchen and dining room cleaned up in record time. It was a Father's Day celebration to remember.
June 27th- This day was designated to scouring the house from the top down and bottom up. The blinds were cleaned, carpet vacuumed, glass stovetop polished, furniture dusted, bathrooms scrubbed, laundry completely caught up. I felt quite pleased with my domestic accomplishments and patted myself on the back. I even called my mom to brag about how much I accomplished and how my house was shining.
June 28- This was the day my son woke up and asked if we could make muffins. Having completely cleaned the house the day before I agreed. Together we preheated the oven, mixed the batter, and filled the muffin tins. I asked my miniature baking assistant to stand back and I opened the oven door and promptly stuck my foot in my mouth while simultaneously popping my eyes as wide as they could go. I was caught up in a moment of humiliation and hilarity. There in the oven were my three big Pyrex dishes sticky and gross from our big family dinner almost ten days prior. Yuck! Thank goodness there were no moldy chunks of food left--it was mostly just caked on dried up, ten day old sauce. I'm embarrassed to even publicly admit this foible!
I wonder if that's how the religious leaders felt when Jesus pointedly called them out saying, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean." (Matthew 23:27). I flaunted off the fact my house was clean but my oven was a mess.
As I started soaking and scrubbing my renegade dishes I thought of the verse that comes just before that reads, "You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that its outside may also be clean" and I remembered who I once was.
I never doubted the existence of God, but I did question His goodness. I grew up in a great church. I had the benefit of amazing Sunday School teachers and children's programs. I had family members who were pastors and missionaries who spoke into my life. My parents daily lived out their Christian faith. I memorized bible verses and sang in the children's choir. I put on my frilly dresses and patent leather shoes every Sunday. I learned quickly how to act the part.
When I was nine I sat in my room playing with my seven year old cousin. We were dressing Barbie dolls and she got very quiet and looked at me and said, "Michelle, I'm going to die." It was discovered that she had childhood leukemia. I immediately responded by telling her, "We are going to pray and if Jesus can walk on water then He can heal you too". She died on Easter weekend.
My trust in the goodness of God was shattered. I continued to go to church with my family. I still got up in front of church and performed. I still put on my Sunday best and acted like a good little Christian girl should. But inside I was festering. My heart was hardened and hate-filled. My parents would tuck me in at night and say prayers with me and I would go through the motions regurgitating words of praise and thankfulness, but as soon as they walked out of the room and the lights were out I would lie in bed and I would spew my hatred out to God. My genuine nightly prayer was..."God, how could you? I hate you. I HATE YOU!" My heart felt like a hot coal in the palm of my hand and no matter how much it hurt and seared my flesh, I could not let go. My hypocritical act went on for years. I was a white washed tomb.
Seventh grade was about to begin. The church just hired a brand new youth pastor. It was my first night in Youth Group. I don't remember the rest of the devotional that night except for one verse that pierced my heart. Romans 5:8 "But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!"
Yet while I hated Him, Christ loved me. Yet while I despised Him, He died for me. That night, alone in my bed, I said a new prayer. "God, if it's true, if you really do love me, take my hatred and give me your kind of love. I'm sorry. Please forgive me." Even though I made Him my enemy- He became my savior.
Ezekiel 36:26 says,"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." He took my heart of hate and replaced it with His heart of love and joy. I was no longer a whitewashed tomb. I was washed from the inside out.
Christ called Lazarus out of the tomb. The tomb that held Christ himself is empty and He called me out of my darkness, doubt and hatred. He is still calling.
Next time I clean my house I will do a more thorough search of my kitchen. Next time I am tempted to question God's goodness I will remember to pray these words from Psalms:
"Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong--
then guide me on the road to eternal life." Psalms 139:23-24
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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