Proverbs 14-15 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He is looking for clean hearts, not clean barns 

@ Proverbs 14
Home decorating is one of my hobbies.  My children often said that at Christmas our home looked like a gift shop, and I guess I did overdo it a bit.  While I’m fairly traditional in style, I enjoy visiting homes decorated with different perspectives and degrees of formality.  With each year, our home gets more and more casual to fit our lifestyle, but elegant homes are still a delight to see, with the exception of one that I visited several years ago.

I walked into a world of white – white walls, white carpet, white furniture, white kitchen, with only a touch of chrome and black here and there.  It was really dull.  Some may consider this style to be serene, but it made me nervous.  I was afraid to breathe for fear my exhaust would stain the walls.  I tried to imagine children running around the house, a science project on the table or spaghetti sauce on the stove, but I just couldn’t go there.  Spaghetti sauce, being red and all, just wouldn’t match.  When our lives are filled with people and projects and productivity, there’s going to be some mess.  I know this to be true.

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” (4)  A barn without animals doesn’t require much attention – no hay strewn about, no feed to manage and certainly no dung to shovel.  But then, of course, that means no milk to drink, eggs to fry or horses to ride.  It’s just a clean, lifeless place.  And sometimes that’s what a life becomes when we try to keep it serene and perfect with no spaghetti sauce.

When we began in youth ministry many years ago, I knew that life was going to get messy.   Lock-ins, car washes and field trips have messed up most of my Saturdays for as long as I can remember.  Christian concerts and praise bands have messed up my hearing to be sure.  Sleep at camp?  Forget about it.  But I wouldn’t trade a moment of all that mess for anything in the world.  The time and energy spent to clean up a messed up soul through the power of God are insignificant in light of eternity.  We are messy people, with our issues and attitudes, but the clean we really need to be concerned about is a clean heart.  “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

We know that interacting with the troubled co-worker or neighbor or unkempt person on the street with all their issues is probably going to mess up the nice, clean life we enjoy, but don’t we want them to see God too?  Patiently helping and guiding the messy teenagers that cross our path at church or in our home may seem like more trouble than it’s worth, but I can testify that it is priceless.  So why don’t we mess up the barn, cook up some sauce and add a little color to our lives. 

Moving Forward:  Looking for some messy people today.  I won’t have trouble finding them – it takes one to know one.  Thank you, Lord, for cleaning up messy lives!

Tomorrow @ Ezekiel 43-48