Last week I wrote about our move to a new house. (Click here to read that post.) The house is from the early 1900’s and has beautiful hardwood floors. The other day I was sweeping those beautiful hardwood floors only to be greatly disturbed by the amount of muck the broom was able to rustle up. And we had only been living in the place a week. A week! Hair. Bread crumbs. Dust. And not that pretty powdery stuff; I’m talking about massive clumps of ickiness. It was, in a word, gross.
I asked my wife if our carpeted apartment was this dirty, and her response surprised me. She said it was worse. That, like a great many things, got me thinking. Hmm. Looking at all this dirt and grime I’ve swept up off our hardwood floors, I’m absolutely disgusted. Yet the same, if not more, filth was hiding in the carpet of our old apartment the whole time. Now if I am honest with myself, I knew the carpet of our old apartment was just as dirty if not more so. Yet for some reason the dirtiness of our old carpeted floors was somehow much more acceptable to me than the dirtiness of our new hardwood floors.
The difference? My perception. I knew the dirt was there in our old carpet. I just wasn’t able to actively perceive it. I couldn’t see it and I didn’t feel it stick to the bottom of my feet as I walked across the room. As long as I didn’t perceive the filth (even though I knew it was there), it was just fine and dandy that the floors were dirty. But as soon as I or someone else is able to perceive the reality of what exists right below our feet, watch out! The cleaning maniac will definitely be appearing shortly to take that dust to town.
And isn’t that exactly how I treat the grime of my own life? Just as long as you or anyone else doesn’t notice the filth, I’m fine with the mess. As soon as someone begins to be able to perceive the amount of dirt in my life, only then do I desire to do anything about it.
For me, the answer is not that we desperately need carpet in our new home. Nor is it that I need to frantically keep a close watch on anyone who just might get a little too close to me and see the dirty floors of my heart. In fact, I’m rather thankful for this newfound perception of my dirty hardwood floors. I’ll keep them cleaner that way. So, too, should I welcome the hard truth that no matter how squeaky clean I love to present myself, I really am dreadfully sinful. And that’s not all bad news. This realization encourages me to “clean house” more often, to keep short accounts with God and with others, and to cling more fervently to God’s good grace found only in Jesus.
If you (whether actually or only metaphorically) find yourself coming to grips with your grimy hardwood floors, rejoice. That’s a good thing! By God’s good grace you’re finally becoming aware of just how much muck exists beneath your feet. It existed in your old place when you had carpet. You just couldn’t perceive it. But now you can! You’re finally beginning to see just how much your need Mr. Clean for the soul: Jesus. You would need him either way. Better to realize it. Now you can ask him to do something about it. And he will. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).