Make Life Blossom: Spring Cleaning for the Soul
It was Shakespeare who wrote: ‘April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.’ But if Shakespeare had lived down under, he may well have wrote that: ‘September hath put a spirit of youth in everything.’ Many of my readers will be in the throes of the fall (or autumn as well call it in our neck of the woods). But for us here down under, we have witnessed the first buds of spring. Spring speaks of promise, hope, fresh starts, and new life. My own spring baby celebrated her birthday today. And instead of a clear spring day today, we were blessed with refreshing spring rain. What is not to like about spring? The blooming blossom trees, daffodils dancing daintily in the wind, surprise bulbs and self-seeded brocoli springing up in the garden. A chance to shake off the winter weariness that has been.
In the Bible September is Rosh Hashana – the biblical new year. Rosh Hashanah means, literally, “head of the year” or “first of the year.” It is a time to begin again, letting go of past mistakes and grabbing hold of God’s grace. I’ve been reminded this week that gratitude changes my attitude. Perhaps thankfulness is a good place to begin.
And spring is a chance to attempt some spring cleaning. Spring cleaning has always seemed overwhelming to me. Where to begin? And so this year I developed a spring cleaning monthly roster with one manageable task per month, so that I don’t have to attempt to spring clean everything in one season.
I’ve always liked outer appearances to be tidy, however the truth is that if you were to open the closets in our house, you might see a different picture. In our household we have ‘the messy drawer.’ But the mess isn’t really limited to just one drawer. There are many ‘messy drawers’ in our household. I ‘spring cleaned’ my closet the other week, and now it needs re-arranging again. Family life is beautifully messy.
Isn’t our spiritual life a bit like this too? If we are honest, our spiritual lives can be a bit like our messy drawers. We hide things in there that we don’t want anyone to see – the negative thoughts, bad attitudes, resentments. We may tidy these up, only to fall back into bad habits of negativity or complaining. I love how Ann Voskamp writes ‘I’m preaching the gospel to myself’, and so in that vein I have asked myself a few questions this spring. While my closet may be in dire need of a makeover, are there areas of my inner house that require interior redecorating also? How can I clear out the clutter so that new life can blossom? What might be interfering with making my relationship with God a top priority. Am I devoting more time and energy to watching TV or surfing social media than I am in devoting time with God?
Spring is a time to tend to the garden. And what about the garden of our heart? Are there any weeds that need to be uprooted? What about the sin that so easily entangles? Are there any seeds of resentment or unforgiveness? If so, we can draw near to God and ask Him to cleanse us. The more we invite the Holy Spirit to blow the fresh air of His grace into our lives, the more we become aware of how our soul may need a good weeding, as well as a clean, dust, vacuum and polish. God is a God of grace, and there’s no sin too messy for God to tidy when we follow His cleaning plan of confession, repentance, and reconciliation.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Spring is a good time to de-clutter. De-cluttering in the household arena is a constant battle. I find as soon as I throw out one bag of things, more things come into the house. And one of the biggest areas of struggle for most of us lies in removing the rubbish from our minds. There is so much rubbish in this world. One only has to look at what is on the television and in media. Perhaps we need to dust off the Bible, and feed our minds and spirits the Word of God.
And just as we may give away garments that no longer work for us, or sell or pass on children’s clothes that they have grown out of, we take off garments that we may have worn in the past, garments of pride or envy, so that we can be clothed more fully with Christ.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Spring cleaning for the soul is housekeeping that goes beyond what others see. God is always at work on our internal housekeeping and our lives can blossom when we obey what He is wanting to do in our lives. We can open the windows of our soul and dust off the layers from our past. We can trust that as we cooperate with God in this season, He will clean out the dross, and we will be drawn into intimacy with Him, as we passionately pursue His presence above all else.