“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more satisfied than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” Luke 11:24-26 (NIV)
When I was in college, Friday was cleaning day. My roommate lived in a neighboring town and went home every weekend leaving me with a private room for two days. Mid afternoon on Friday, I put on my Eric Carmen album, turned up my stereo and sang, “All by myself,” while I dusted and vacuumed. (Boy am I dating myself!). When I was first married, there were only two people and two dogs to care for in a small house with a postage stamped size yard. Cleaning was a snap. When we moved to a new house, we rarely used the upstairs, so it still was not bad although we now had acreage to tend. Then, we had kids. The mess multiplied greater than the number of people in our home, while my energy level decreased. What kept me motivated was my mother in law. She is a truly sweet and loving person, but she is very neat and tidy. I remember when we bought our first house that she came behind me and recleaned a toilet on which I thought I had already done a satisfactory job. As our kids grew, we were blessed that my husband’s parents gave us the gift of a date night every Friday night. They picked the boys up from school, brought them to our house for a few minutes and then, transported them to their house for dinner and play until we came and picked them up. It was a tremendous blessing, probably saving our marriage, but it meant that I felt pressure (from within myself, mind you) to make sure my house was clean by Friday. So, Thursday became my cleaning night. Now, Friday night is still Grandma’s night, but both boys drive so I no longer have to leave the house clean when I go to work on Friday mornings. Yet, I can’t become a complete slob. Remember, whose son I married. I didn’t realize that the dirty house bothered him as much as it did until I finished cleaning yesterday. When I proudly displayed my sparkling microwave, he said, “I don’t want to put a damper on your enthusiasm, but that is the way it is supposed to look all the time.” I bleached the kitchen trash can, and he said, “Is that our trash can?” When I smiled and nodded, he said, “I wondered when someone would decide to do something about that.” Now that the house is clean, I guess I have to work to keep it that way. I just finished sweeping up a pile of sand that the dogs drug in. Looks like it will be a never-ending process. The same goes for our hearts. God will come in a clean it for us, but we have to be vigilant to give Him permission to continue. Staying away from sin and living a holy life is a daily, moment by moment process. I am just glad that I can count on God to do the sweeping.